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In high-level-architecture (HLA)-based distributed heterogeneous collaborative engineering environments (CEEs), the construction of federation object model files is time consuming. This paper presents an ontology fusion approach aiming at establishing a common understanding in such collaborative environments. The proposed approach has three steps: ontology mapping, ontology alignment, and ontology merging. Ontology mapping employs a top-down approach to explore all bridge relations between two terms from different ontologies based on bridge axioms and deduction rules. Ontology alignment adopts a bottom-up approach to discover implicit bridge relations between two terms from different domain ontologies based on equivalent inference. Ontology merging generates a new collaboration ontology from discovered equivalent bridge relations. It adopts an axiom-based ontology fusion strategy and takes heavy-weighted ontologies into consideration. It can find all the explicit and derived interontology relations. In a typical CEE, the proposed approach has a great potential to improve the efficiency of preparation for HLA-based collaborative engineering processes, reduce the work load for adaptive adjustment of existing platforms, and enhance the reusability and flexibility of CEEs. A case study has been conducted to validate the feasibility of the proposed approach.