Airbus Helicopters has just begun flight tests on Flightlab, a platform dedicated to the maturation of new technologies. Airbus Helicopters Flightlab provides a dedicated environment to quickly and efficiently test technologies across Airbus' current helicopter range and even for even more demanding ones such as future fixed-wing aircraft or (e) VTOL platforms.
In addition to testing hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with Flightlab, Airbus Helicopters aims to monitor autonomy and other technologies focused on reducing helicopter noise levels or improving maintenance and flight safety.
“Investing in the future is particularly important in times of crisis: It provides our customers with added value with the goal of more security, less pilot workload and less noise levels,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. "Having a dedicated platform to test these new technologies brings the future of flight one step closer, and this is a clear reflection of our priorities at Airbus Helicopters."
Flight tests began last April, and the platform was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban areas and to study the effects of buildings, particularly on human perception. Preliminary results show that buildings play an important role in masking or raising their sound levels, and these studies will play an important role, especially when it comes time to adjust sound modeling and editing for urban air mobility (UAM) initiatives. In December, tests were conducted to evaluate the Rotor Strike Alerting System (RSAS), which aims to alert the crew of the risk of imminent collision with the main and tail rotors.
This year's tests will include a camera vision detection solution to enable low altitude navigation, the applicability of a special 'health and utilization monitoring system (HUMS) for light helicopters, and an' engine backup system 'that will provide emergency electricity in the event of a turbine failure. Tests via Flightlab will continue in 2022 to assess a new ergonomic design of intuitive pilot flight controls aimed at further reducing pilot workload, and this can be applied to conventional helicopters as well as other VTOL formulas such as UAM.
Flightlab is an Airbus startup that reflects the company's innovation approach focused on delivering value to customers. Airbus has many well-known examples of Flightlab, such as the A340 MSN1, used to study the applicability of laminar flow flap technology in a large aircraft, and the A350 Airspace Explorer, used to evaluate connected cabin technologies.