Commercial, Military

Thales Showcasing FlytX’s “New Way of Flying” for Helicopters at Heli-Expo

By Frank Wolfe | January 28, 2020
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Thales said that its FlytX avionics suite for helicopters represents “a new way of flying.” Photo: Thales

Thales is showcasing its FlytX avionics suite at the Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo convention this week in Anaheim, Calif.

The company heralds FlytX for size, weight, and power (SWAP) reductions, a decrease in the amount of required training time, and enhanced ease of flight for pilots.

“FlytX is a new-generation avionics suite for helicopter, from light VFR [visual flight rules] single engine to heavy IFR [instrument flight rules], at odds with today’s designs and offering new, efficient ways of piloting,” according to Thales.

“Weight and volume are highly critical for helicopters,” the company said. “FlytX has made dramatic improvements in these areas over existing avionics suites.  The power derived from four computers in today’s air transport airplane is now integrated within a single 15” SMART display. Additionally, with the ability to virtualize the control panels within the touchscreen displays, FlytX is a unique solution to save weight, volume and to reduce the amount of equipment on board.”

Thales unveiled a helicopter version of FlytX during the 2019 Paris Air Show, and the company said that is targeting the helicopter system’s debut on the French military’s fleet of Airbus H160M Guépard helicopters. Sebastien Boussiron, a senior research and development engineer for Thales, told Avionics International recently that a team of engineers is working on a business jet variant of the FlytX touchscreen cockpit to fly an aircraft completely using smart displays and no embedded avionics bay style computing.

“FlytX [is] an avionics solution that is already under development for helicopters. We’re now preparing this for the business jet market,” Boussiron told Avionics International. “In business jets, we’re already onboard several platforms in terms of electrical flight controls, but this would be our first full fledged avionics cockpit solution, to be in competition with Honeywell and Collins.”

FlytX integration and virtualization results in a 30-to-40 percent reduction in SWAP, according to the company, as well as a decreased need for line-replaceable units.

Thales describes the touchscreen aspect of FlytX as featuring tablet-like interaction, with two-finger zoom, de-zoom, map displacement and scrolling. “Pie menus are also a new type of interface providing direct access to information without necessary training on functions and the connected system trees,” according to the French avionics maker.

Thales said that FlytX for helicopters can have between one and four cockpit displays, depending on mission need, and that the system “provides Synthetic Vision System and Digital Map to enhance situational awareness and flight security.”

“FlytX displays all equipment situation status, system pages (engine, hydraulic, electric, fuel, etc.),” according to Thales. “It allows both circuits and onboard equipment to be monitored and managed using tactile menus and interactive widgets. The Flight Warning System (FWS) computes and displays alerts on a single dedicated area of the screens for an easy understanding and quick reaction on the pilot’s part.”

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