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StandardAero and Thales work on light helicopter autopilot
Thales is offering a lightweight four-axis autopilot that enables permanent stabilisation, eliminating the flight control computer, controlling the aircraft from initial hover to coupled approach and position-hold.

StandardAero and Thales have signed a teaming agreement formalising a mutual commitment for developing and certifying an advanced autopilot system for the light helicopter market. The system will initially be certified for installation on the Airbus Helicopters AS350.

Based on extensive autopilot experience, Thales has incorporated the features and safety design architecture usually found in multi-engine IFR helicopters into its Compact Autopilot, now available to light helicopter platforms. Thales is offering a lightweight four-axis solution that enables permanent aircraft stabilisation, eliminating the traditional dedicated flight control computer. The autopilot can also fully control the helicopter from initial hover to coupled approach and position-hold.

StandardAero brings its aftermarket experience in aircraft modifications and supplemental certification capabilities to the AS350 Compact Autopilot product. The company's engineering and certification knowledge serves to ensure the fielded solution will far exceed the basic certification requirements and will satisfy operators' expectations for system operation, airframe integration, simplified maintenance and product support.

“Our Compact Autopilot solution capitalises on the proven levels of safety and reliability that are already deployed on larger air transport platforms. We will use this technology and experience as the basis for a cutting-edge, timely solution, bringing light helicopters into a new era,” says Thales VP Christian Bardot.

“As part of our ongoing SafeCraft programme, offering this autopilot allows us to press forward in our aggressive pursuit of certifying innovative, transformational safety technologies that address many of the most common concerns our customers face, such as pilot fatigue and entry into inadvertent IMC conditions that can often result in LOC-I and CFIT situations,” adds StandardAero VP of business development Elvis Moniz. “These risks are well known throughout the industry by owners, operators and the pilots flying these machines, yet until now we haven't had the right technology available for this segment to adequately address the threat head on. That all changes today.”

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