Upgraded avionics for workhorse helos

Emerging advanced flight displays and safety systems for rotary wing aircraft flown in instrument conditions.

Advanced Helicopter Flight Displays developed by Honeywell integrate synthetic vision and enhanced vision technology into one panel. These combined vision flight displays provide helicopter crews with new and significantly improved operational and safety capabilities.

The Elbit Clear Vision head-worn display is designed as a full flight instrument to be used in cockpits equipped with EFVS. This system has some unique elements to it, including the ability for the pilot to see the normal flight instruments when looking straight ahead, or move and see useful information in other directions.

Elbit announced certification efforts for its Clear Vision system with ATR as an alternative to HUDs in fixed wing aircraft, and subsequent helicopter applications are expected.

The abilities of Clear Vision technology enables its practical use in helicopters as an everyday flight instrument that has the potential to improve the safety factor for missions flying down low, when in a hover or near obstacles. The use of EFVS at night and in IMC will be another great addition for operators flying Part 135 and EMS.

Thales has been working to bring military helmet mounted display technologies to the civilian sector. Their TopMax consists of a mono HUD integrated into the pilot's headset, no helmet required. Its TopEagle design is the 1st ever full-color day/night HMD head-up civil helicopter solution, designed to provide flight instrument like operations for day/night EMS, search and rescue and law enforcement.

These operations typically require a scan that is mostly outside, so having flight displays on a screen as you look outside will be a most-welcome feature that could find its way into the helo cockpit as standard equipment.

Saving time and lives

Helicopter flightdeck innovations are moving along rapidly. Some technologies could be ready soon, and may become standard fare. But developers and manufacturers may still need additional help and collaboration from both FAA and EASA.

The recent announcement of a special condition for FBW flight controls by the FAA because it's "new and novel" is both a blessing and a problem. The FAA may be able to expedite cockpit use of these new technologies by designating them "special conditions," but this is because the existing rules don't yet accommodate the newer technology.

FAA's aggressive push for EFVS technology was meant to open the door to the future rather than dwell on "new and novel," and could be the model for advanced envelope protection for helicopters.

Glenn Connor is president of Discover Technology Intl. He is a pilot and a researcher specializing in the development of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.


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