HAI Convention News

Cobham cockpit comes together

 - February 23, 2009, 1:50 PM

The fusion of Chelton Flight Systems/S-TEC Chelton, Inc. and Wulfsberg Electronics as component companies of Cobham Avionics and Surveillance is evident in the helicopter cockpit mockup at the Cobham booth (No. 434). What the company calls “The Cobham Cockpit” combines technology drawn into a full system integrator from formerly separate providers of discrete components and products.

The mockup, representing the system Cobham will supply to the U.S. Navy for its Bell TH-57 training helicopter, melds the HeliSAS stability augmentation and VFR autopilot from Cobham Avionics, Integrated Systems (the former S-TEC in Mineral Wells, Texas); Chelton’s electronic flight instrument system with embedded flight  management, synthetic-vision and H-TAWS terrain avoidance software; and Wulfsberg Flexcom VHF/UHF tactical radios.

The HeliSAS is currently undergoing FAA supplemental type certification for installation on the Robinson R44 Raven I and Raven II, to which the system adds less than 13 pounds. It combines an “always on” stability augmentation system with autopilot functions including heading hold, altitude hold, GPS, VOR/localizer course intercept and tracking and vertical navigation. According to Gordon Pratt, Cobham Avionics and Surveillance v-p of business development, with the SAS-only function engaged, pilots with no helicopter experience have successfully hovered a helicopter with very little practice. Pratt, himself a fixed-wing pilot with limited rotorcraft time, confirmed that statement as he described how an R44 can right itself to near-level from an unusual attitude.

Plans for STC’ing HeliSAS on the Bell 206 and 407 are under way as well, with a fly-away target price of $75,000. Pratt said the Mineral Wells branch of the Cobham family will build the production systems. The TSO approval and certification process, he added, “is in its final throes.” STC work on the R44 is being accomplished at the Robinson plant in Torrance, Calif., while Edwards and Associates is handling the certification and developing the Bell 206/407installation kits.