StandardAero and Thales are offering a new four-axis autopilot for Airbus AS350/H125 light single helicopters, marking the culmination of a multiple-year project between the MRO provider and the French avionics specialist. The autopilot offers control of pitch, roll, yaw, and collective in a compact form for the long-lived helicopter originally known as the AStar. Thales has reduced the size and number of the components from earlier generations, which helped it to fit an autopilot system in an airframe of this size.
During the recent Heli-Expo in Dallas, AIN did a demo flight with Thales test pilots James Sleigh and Nicolas Couder to check out the new device. Sleigh and Couder demonstrated the autopilot’s capabilities, including the StableClimb flight attitude recovery and terrain pull-up, as well as hands-off, feet-off flight modes. In one instance, the pilots engaged the autopilot’s automatic approach function to Lancaster Regional Airport outside Dallas, which ended in a 50-foot hover. Sleigh compared StableLight to having a second pilot aboard the helicopter in single-pilot operations, thereby increasing safety and decreasing pilot workload.