Thales Brings 2020 Cockpit to Helicopters

By Woodrow Bellamy III | February 25, 2014
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Photo courtesy of Thales

[Avionics Today Feb. 25, 2014] Thales gave 2014 Heli-Expo attendees a glimpse into the future of helicopter cockpits as it unveiled the Avionics 2020 cockpit concept for rotorcraft. 

The cockpit is the helicopter version of Thales Avionics 2020 concept for fixed wing aircraft, which was first, unveiled at the 2013 Paris Air Show. With multi-touchscreen capabilities, head-down controls and a mission-centric approach with customizable systems, Thales is bringing cutting edge fixed wing technology to the rotorcraft world. 

“A cockpit designed around the principles of open architecture, man machine interface and customizability is no longer an intellectual exercise but a viable commercial application,” said Dennis Bonnet, head of innovation at Thales’ cockpit competence center.

The Avionics 2020 cockpit features four touchscreens, three interchangeable displays mounted on top of a display that acts as the control allowing the pilot to monitor all aircraft systems and functions, including the Flight Management System (FMS), engine health and literally everything the pilot needs to know.

Ease of functionality is heavily incorporated into the Avionics 2020 cockpit, as the touchscreen capability is similar to a customizable tablet. One of the more advanced functions is the datalink messaging capability, which would allow an offshore operator to receive an alert from a ground worker who needs transportation.  

Information about the terrain, surrounding airborne obstacles and nearby weather patterns easily appear on the screen with a swipe and quick input.

“Giving the pilots these capabilities is going to decrease their workload and allow them to see only the information that they require during a specific phase of flight,” said Richard Perrot, marketing director of the avionics division at Thales.

Thales is targeting entry into service in 2020, although no helicopters have been confirmed yet as the launch airframe for the futuristic cockpit.  

Displayed at the Heli-Expo in a generic helicopter configuration, Perrot said the structure of the cockpit takes into account specific functionalities of various civil helicopter missions, including search and rescue and offshore operations.

“We’re targeting the entire spectrum of the helicopter industry, including offshore, EMS and other civil operators when we bring this to the market in 2020,” said Perrot. “We really feel that with the open architecture and ability to customize the solution, we have something that reaches all segments of the industry.”

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