Thales and StandardAero have developed a compact four-axis autopilot for the Airbus AS350/H125 AStar family of turbine single helicopters and conducted a successful first test flight. The companies anticipate FAA STC approval by mid-2021. Flight testing will continue throughout the next several months at StandardAero’s Langley, British Columbia, Canada facility. Earlier this year, StandardAero/Thales announced that Airbus helicopter operator WeatherTech, the automotive accessories company, is the launch customer.
The autopilot is an intuitive automatic flight control system that provides stability augmentation, attitude retention, and flight director modes such as altitude or heading hold. “We aim to bring a user-friendly solution offering an unparalleled level of safety and reliability to the light helicopter market," said Jean-Paul Ebanga, Thales vice president of flight avionics activities. “This product combines Thales’s Autopilot experience, based on billions of flight hours accumulated and outstanding customer satisfaction, with StandardAero’s extensive aftermarket capabilities in aircraft modification and certification.”
“This state-of-the-art, four-axis autopilot system has been designed as a straightforward retrofit and provides pilots with simplified operation that will help reduce wear and tear on the helicopter while making flying in normal and adverse conditions much easier and safer for the crew and passengers,” said Elvis Moniz, StandardAero vice president of product development for helicopters.