Thales in June uncovered the Avionics 2020 cockpit, a concept that could become reality aboard commercial aircraft as soon as seven years from now. Although it was introduced as an airliner flight deck, the concept is generic and can be implemented into a helicopter, according to Thales. The company’s engineers have literally reinvented the man-machine interface, using touchscreens, a bicolor head-up display and an innovative way to help the pilot anticipate – a timeline.
The input of experts in cognitive science has been key. The cockpit is focused on the tasks to be completed by the pilot – he or she does not need an exhaustive knowledge of the system itself, explained Denis Bonnet, director of avionics innovation.
Data from avionics and non-avionics systems are presented to the pilot in a so-called transparent manner, making decisions instinctive and less reliant on cognitive analysis. This is expected to be especially effective under stress. Design engineers thus want to leverage the pilot’s strengths and help manage their weaknesses.
Photo courtesy of Thales
For the pilot, “anticipating is of utmost importance,” Bonnet continued. The timeline is a depiction of the flight’s successive events – reaching a waypoint, changing the aircraft’s configuration, etc. The pilot can zoom in and zoom out on the timeline, also selecting short, mid and long-term events. The bottom line is better situational awareness, according to Bonnet.
Avionics 2020 can be customized and therefore adapted to a given aircraft. “Personalization duties can interchangeably be handled by Thales or by the customer, who may wish to retain control over intellectual property aspects and enjoy greater autonomy in the development and management of changes to their solution,” the company notes.
SESAR and NextGen capabilities have been integrated. For example, I4D operations give the pilot a time constraint to each aircraft converging to a metering point, in order to better sequence traffic.
Related: Helicopter Avionics News