Airbus has started deliveries to airlines of the first A350s equipped with Thales touchscreen flight deck displays. On December 18 China Eastern Airlines took delivery of the first A350 equipped with the new devices, designed to aid crew interaction, cockpit symmetry, and information management. Some 20 airlines have selected the option for their new A350s. The touchscreens received EASA certification in November.
The A350 flight deck has six large displays, and airlines can opt for three of those to be the Thales touchscreens, although the two primary flight displays and center multifunction display are not available for the touchscreen interface. The touchscreens on the A350 consist of one each on the outboard side of the flight deck, for each pilot, and another display mounted on the tilt panel above the two flight management system (FMS) keyboard-cursor control units (KCCUs).
The new displays are designed to give pilots quick access to electronic flight bag (EFB) functions. The touchscreen interface adds another way to control the EFBs, which previously could only be managed with a physical keyboard that is mounted in the pilots' retractable tables and the KCCUs.
Pilots can use familiar touchscreen gestures to operate the new displays, including pinch-zoom and panning. Some of the EFB apps available to pilots include computing takeoff performance, accessing navigation information and charts during cruise, and displaying terminal charts in preparation for setting up the approach in the FMS. The touchscreens are helpful for pilots during high-workload phases of flight because they eliminate many of the cursor inputs that were necessary and also by allowing pilots to work collaboratively using EFB applications on the lower center display while not having to switch between different displays.
Boeing is also going the touchscreen route and plans to begin delivering the 777X with five Collins Aerospace touchscreen displays in early 2021. Boeing announced the contract with Collins in 2016.