Airbus Helicopters automation technology begins flight testing

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Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight validation testing of the on-board image processing system for its flight automation system.

The experiment, which is codenamed Project EAGLE (Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension), aims to develop a system to automate and secure approaches, take-off and landing of helicopters in demanding environments.

Engineers on the project are working to centralize the entire helicopter’s image processing functions and feed them into the avionics system, to improve the crew’s situational awareness and reduce the pilot’s workload.

The system is being designed so it can be used on several different existing and future Airbus vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles.

The in-flight validation of the innovative on-board image processing system is being performed on an H225 flying testbed.

The trials have so far demonstrated the system’s ability to select a small ground target from ranges of up to 2 miles and to automatically track it during the approach performed by the pilot.

The flight tests have also validated EAGLE’s architecture and main components, such as the gyrostabilized optronics package and the processing unit.

The next steps of the testing campaign will focus on coupling Eagle with the automatic flight control system to fully automate the approach to a selected landing area.

December 20, 2017

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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