A preview of what future AgustaWestland helicopter cockpits will look like was seen in the AW149 mockup exhibited at the Paris Airshow last June. The new cockpit approach promises to reduce costs, both in the development phase and in the life cycles of aircraft. The higher degree of cockpit commonality among AgustaWestland models promises to save money on pilot training and enhance fleet flexibility.
The common cockpit concept is built around NVG-compatible ten- by eight-inch flat-panel displays that host all required flight data on the primary flight display (PFD), leaving the multifunction flight display (MFD) free for additional aircraft information or mission-related data.
AgustaWestland’s aim is to design a full glass cockpit that will eliminate the need for auxiliary panels such as those prevalent today. The common cockpit is an open-architecture system based on the new AFDX communication bus used on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787, which provides a data rate of 100 mbps.
The PFD is designed to allow for synthetic-vision capability with the upper section of the display presenting a realistic real-time, three-dimensional, virtual-reality view of the helicopter attitude and the outside world.
The crew alerting system (CAS) is no longer on a separate display but is now a window located in the upper right corner of the copilot’s PFD and in the upper left corner of the pilot’s PFD.
The cursor control device mounted in the central console also is duplicated on the cyclic grips to provide joystick functions without the need to remove hands from the controls.
The new common cockpit will cut the number of multifunction display units by up to half. Those that remain will be transformed for use as backups for the PFDs.
AgustaWestland is equipping the latest version of the AW101 with the new common cockpit. This technology will also be installed on future AgustaWestland models.
The new cockpit has inherent growth capabilities that will allow the Italian airframer to add new features such as an integrated terrain awareness and warning system and a synthetic-vision information system in the MFD. Electronic charts also can be
presented on the MFD, as well as on the integrated touchscreen MCDUs and head-up display.
The system’s modularity will allow AgustaWestland to transfer software modules from one aircraft to another, reducing development time and cost. They also can add new instruments and sensors.