Helicopter SVS Catching On

 - March 27, 2007, 12:44 PM

Avionics makers highlighted a number of intriguing technologies for helicopters at last month’s Heli-Expo in Orlando, Fla., none more buzz-worthy than the synthetic-vision system (SVS) concepts unveiled by Thales and Honeywell.

Thales talked about a version of SVS for the TopDeck cockpit in the forthcoming Sikorsky S-76D, while Honeywell went as far as to bring to the show an AStar fitted with experimental SVS hardware and software. During a demonstration flight over the swampland east of Orlando, a Honeywell pilot put the technology through its paces, showing how SVS in a helicopter differs from the technology applied in airplanes. For example, nose-down climbs and certain other types of white-knuckle maneuvers are unique to rotorcraft, presenting SVS developers with challenges.

Honeywell emphasized that its helicopter SVS remains merely a research project for the time being and that it will take at least a few years before a certified product makes it to market. Thales, meanwhile, said the S-76D won’t be certified with SVS, but the technology will likely be added later through a software upgrade.