StandardAero, Thales autopilot update
March 7, 2019 By Helicopters Staff
StandardAero and Thales, at the 2019 HAI Heli-Expo show in Atlanta, provided an update on their partnership to develop a new light helicopter autopilot system, noting an in-depth market study and design definition are now complete, and planning is underway for the next phase of development.
This advanced autopilot system is one element of StandardAero’s SAFECRAFT portfolio, comprised of safety upgrade equipment initially targeting the Airbus Helicopters AS350 platform. The next phase of deployment for the new autopilot system is planned to begin later this year and will include flight testing. While the AS350 helicopter is the initial launch platform for this system into the light helicopter market, additional helicopter platforms are also being considered for future expansion.
Over the course of the past four months, the joint team has collected market input directly from operators to understand the requirements of light helicopter operators across a variety of mission profiles, as well as the definition of design requirements for the initial introduction of this system into the AS350 platform.
“Our efforts in the deployment of this light helicopter autopilot system are firmly embedded in our overall safety approach as part of our SAFECRAFT initiative,” said Rick Stine, president of StandardAero Components, Helicopters & Accessories. “We are very excited to be working in partnership with a world-class innovator such as Thales, and we believe that with our combined expertise, the introduction of this truly one-of-a-kind, advanced autopilot solution will prove effective in addressing many of the known safety concerns operators are facing today.”
StandardAero explains introduction of this new autopilot system will bring unprecedented technological capability to light helicopter platforms. Features and capabilities built into the design of the system will be in direct correlation with the needs of operators.
Since the very first autopilot development for the Concorde 60 years ago, Thales has developed a strong expertise in this domain with civil and military programs worldwide, including the 4-axis duplex helicopter AFCS, certified for single pilot IFR, SAR, and more.