Modern helicopter cockpit avionics now rival fixed-wing bizjet panels

Moving firmly in the direction of advanced flightdeck technology, improved V/STOL operational capability and safety are available.


Cobham's EFIS flightdeck and HeliSAS autopilot has been integrated to enable hands-free operation.

If you are new to Cobham Commercial Systems products, you will find both flight instruments and helicopter Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS) available for a large line of helicopters. As it turns out, Cobham Commercial Systems is also a leading provider of integrated avionics systems and emergency locator systems for both military as well as civil customers.

Cobham reports that its Synthetic Vision (SV) Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS) is now approved on more than 700 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Cobham has also made a significant effort to integrate both normal flightdeck and autoflight systems known as HeliSAS or Helicopter Stability Augmentation System.

The Cobham HeliSAS was first certified in 2009, and was developed to provide an all-digital design that supports all conventional autopilot modes. HeliSAS is described by Cobham as "a full-authority system based on a dual-processor, fail-passive architecture" that can be fitted to any hydraulic-control helicopter.

The system design has a practical financial focus as well as flight capability—weight and price. The HeliSAS weighs less than 12 lbs and is priced to sell at a very competitive cost as compared with conventional helicopter autopilots. In January 2013 the company reported that their HeliSAS and autopilot received the CAAC (Civilian Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) STC for installation on Bell 407 helicopters and also an EASA STC for installation aboard Eurocopter helicopters including EC models of the AStar AS350B, B1, B2, B3, BA, D, and EC130B4 models.

The Cobham EFIS flightdeck includes a Flight Path Vector (FPV) based on their Highway-In-The-Sky (HITS) design that includes green HITS boxes which help guide you to a pont-in-space by any lat/long or radial/distance point for use to land precisely on a helo pad or oil rig platform.

Rockwell Collins

Rockwell Collins HeliSure uses high resolution databases and 3D terrain rendering integrated with the flight guidance. The design provides the pilot with a real world perspective of the terrain and obstacles along his flightpath

Rockwell Collins has long been a player in rotorcraft with the very significant US Army helicopter modernization program called CAAS or Common Aviation Architecture System. And today many Rockwell Collins systems for helicopters can also be found on a variety of military platforms such as the S70B Seahawk, Sikorsky S92, UH60 Black Hawk and many others.

Initially developed for the MH47G Boeing Chinook and the MH60L/M Black Hawk aircraft, CAAS also was a forerunner in the development of what is now RC's Pro Line 21 with a fully integrated ARINC 429 databus. And now Rockwell Collins is introducing its new HeliSure helicopter avionics system for commercial implementation.

RC's HeliSure incorporates the company's HSVS that utilizes a new database technology specifically designed for helicopter operations and also includes innovations in the process and security issues of SVS database management including updated process, data rates and lead times.

The new RC HeliSure system also includes Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS) incorporated with its advanced flight display with flight guidance. A new element incorporated into the HeliSure Primary Flight Display is the use of a high resolution databases, 3D terrain rendering and glass cockpit displays. Rockwell Collins states that their HeliSure includes what they call HSVS and is a combination of "integrated visualization, displays, sensors and database components."

The design provides the pilot with a real world perspective of the terrain and obstacles along his flightpath, particularly in a "Degraded Visual Environments (DVE)." The magic of HeliSure lies within the new development of a terrain database with a 3-arc second resolution.

As described by RC's information, HeliSure "offers proven detection technologies that can enhance situational awareness across a broad range of areas—short and long-distance obstacle detection" all of which are major concerns anytime for helicopter operations. In addition to these developments, Rockwell Collins is also a key participant in US defense helicopter program for SVS technology Synthetic Vision Avionics Backbone (SVAB).

The purpose of the project is to develop and demonstrate 3D SVS and light weight sensors primarily for landing. The bottom line for those in the market for advanced flight decks is more is coming—and from a long trusted supplier.


Honeywell's new SV HELO is a unique display of obstacles and combined vision with flight guidance that can support approaches as steep as 9 degrees.

Commercial demands and tempo mean you go in all weather. And that demand has also led to some unfortunate safety statistics. Honeywell's innovations of SV HELO has brought new and much needed technology to helicopters. The PFD has been reinvented by Honeywell as SV HELO, and it includes new safety features such as integrated HTAWS, SVS and EVS—now called Combined Vision—into the PFD.

Honeywell is actually pioneering an effort to provide the new CVS PFD fused together with awareness of terrain, obstacles, landmarks and threats the pilot will see within his PFD. The unique idea of showing color of the sensor image matching the terrain integrates seamlessly and is a perfect blend of the flight instrument and the EVS image.

The integration of conformal navigation and obstacle features with sensor imagery also serves as independent confirmation, and the 2 systems naturally integrated into just 1 display.

Implementation by Honeywell of the custom database with specific features like alerting the pilot to noticing power lines, bridges, obstacles and cityscape with a geo spatially correct terrain display essentially eliminates a complex task of instrument scan. Safer helicopter flight is the result.


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