(25 Jan 2021)
Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on
board Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory
exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies.
Flightlab provides an agile platform with which to
quickly test technologies that could later equip Airbus’ current
helicopter range, and even more disruptive ones for future
fixed-wing aircraft or (e)VTOL platforms.
Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing
of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with its Flightlab
demonstrator, as well as exploring autonomy, and other
technologies aimed at reducing helicopter sound levels or
improving maintenance and flight safety.
“Investing in the future remains essential, even
in times of crisis, especially when those innovations bring added
value to our customers by targeting increased safety, reduced
pilot workload, and reduced sound levels,” said Bruno Even, Airbus
Helicopters CEO. “Having a dedicated platform to test these new
technologies brings the future of flight a step closer and is a
clear reflection of our priorities at Airbus Helicopters.”
Flight tests started last April when the
demonstrator was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban
areas and to particularly study how buildings may affect people’s
First results show that buildings play an important
role in masking or amplifying sound levels and these studies will
be instrumental when the time comes for sound modelling and
regulation setting, especially for Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
Testing was pursued in December to evaluate the Rotor
Strike Alerting System (RSAS) aimed at alerting crews about the
imminent risk of collision with the main and tail rotors.
Tests this year will include an image-detection
solution with cameras to enable low altitude navigation, the
viability of a dedicated Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS)
for light helicopters, and an Engine Back-up System, which will
provide emergency electric power in the event of a turbine
Testing on Flightlab will continue in 2022 in order
to evaluate a new ergonomic design of intuitive pilot flight
controls intended to further reduce pilot workload, which could be
applicable to traditional helicopters as well as other VTOL
formulas such as UAM.
Airbus already has several
well-known Flightlabs such as the A340 MSN1, used to assess the
feasibility of introducing laminar flow wing technology on a large
airliner, and the A350 Airspace Explorer used to evaluate
connected cabin technologies inflight.
Travel Industry News,
How’s Business in Pattaya, Thailand? Interview with MD of Tiffany’s Show