StandardAero and Thales move forward with helicopter autopilot system

StandardAero and Thales have announced continued progress in their partnership focused on a new light helicopter autopilot system, with an in-depth market study and design definition now complete, and planning underway for the next phase of development. This advanced autopilot system is one element of StandardAero’s Safecraft portfolio, comprised of various safety upgrade equipment specifically dedicated for the light helicopter market, initially targeting the Airbus Helicopters AS350 helicopter platform.

StandardAero and Thales move forward with helicopter autopilot system Over the past four months, the joint team has collected market input directly from operators to better understand the requirements of light helicopter operators.(Picture source: Thales)

“Our efforts in the deployment of this light helicopter autopilot system are firmly embedded in our overall safety approach as part of our Safecraft initiative,” said Rick Stine, StandardAero president of components, helicopters & accessories. “We are very excited to be working in partnership with a world-class innovator such as Thales, and we believe that with our combined expertise, the introduction of this truly one-of-a-kind, advanced autopilot solution will prove effective in addressing many of the known safety concerns operators are facing today.”

Since the very first autopilot development for the Concorde 60 years ago, Thales has developed a strong expertise in this domain with civil and military programs, including 4-axis duplex helicopter automatic flight control system (AFCS), certified for single pilot instrument flight rules (IFR), search-and-rescue (SAR), and more.

The next phase of deployment for the new autopilot system under discussion, it is planned to begin later this year and will include flight testing. While the AS350 helicopter is the initial launch platform for this system into the light helicopter market, additional helicopter platforms are also being considered for future expansion of this adaptable safety solution.