StandardAero and Thales Team to Certify the Advanced Autopilot System for Light Helicopters

StandardAero and Thales announced a signed teaming agreement formalizing a mutual commitment for developing and certifying an advanced autopilot system for the light helicopter market. The system will initially be certified for installation on the popular Airbus Helicopters AS350 platform.

Based on their autopilot experience, Thales says it has incorporated the features and safety design architecture usually found in multi-engine Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) helicopters into its Compact Autopilot, now available to light helicopter platforms. Thales is offering a lightweight four-axis solution that enables permanent aircraft stabilization, eliminating the traditional dedicated flight control computer. The autopilot can also fully control the helicopter from initial hover to coupled approach and position-hold.

StandardAero brings its aftermarket experience in aircraft modifications and supplemental certification capabilities to the AS350 Compact Autopilot product. The company says its engineering and certification knowledge serves to ensure the fielded solution will far exceed the basic certification requirements and will satisfy operators’ exacting expectations for system operation, airframe integration, simplified maintenance and product support.

“Our Compact Autopilot solution capitalizes on the proven levels of safety and reliability that are already deployed on larger air transport platforms. We will use this technology and experience as the basis for a cutting-edge, timely solution, bringing light helicopters into a new era,” said Christian Bardot, Thales vice-president in charge of Helicopter Avionics business

“As part of our ongoing SAFECRAFT program, offering this state-of-the-art compact autopilot allows us to press forward in our aggressive pursuit of certifying innovative, transformational safety technologies that address many of the most common concerns our customers face, such as pilot fatigue and entry into inadvertent IMC conditions that can oftenresult in LOC-I and CFIT situations. These risks are well known throughout the industry by owners, operators and the pilots flying these machines, yet until now, we haven’t had the right technology available for this segment to adequately address the threat head on. That all changes today,” added Elvis Moniz, StandardAero vice president of Business Development for Airframes and Avionics Solutions.