One of the most jaw-dropping pieces of technology on display at Heli Expo was Avionics 2020; which can legitimately be described as a new generation cockpit for helicopters. Basically it is an intuitive, all touchscreen cockpit display that Thales marketing director Richard Perrot demonstrated.
Using only fingertip control, he accessed the avionics and mission management on the large display panels, demonstrating the programming of a route to a search area while selecting the transit path, then the programming of a search pattern. There is not a single button to press – it is all touch-screen alone – and the standby aid is a rolltracker pointer incorporated as an alternate mode that would be used exactly the same as a computer mouse and pointer.
Thales’ Avionics division is designing the suite and Perrot said that it will be based on open system architecture with a Thales electronic backbone, but that will be compatible with mission software allowing third-party systems or functions to be added into the architecture. The displays will not be restricted by size and discussions are being held with all of the OEMs regarding its introduction date, which will be 2020. Perrot said that part of the system had already been involved in flight trials, but would not say which OEM or event aircraft type.
Touch-screen avionics should be easier for pilots to use and reduce command sequences during mission management. If common across helicopter types, it could also reduce re-qualification times for pilots transitioning helicopter types.
Related: Avionics News