One-way progress is outdated
For a long time, progress in avionics has been a one-way street. Throughout the 20th century, military aircraft and their crews were the primary beneficiaries of the most disruptive R&D and innovation. Innovations then adapted to the needs of commercial flights.
This era is partly over and we have seen the reverse process developing for several years. Nowadays, innovations in avionics come at least as often from the military as from the civilian, gradually blurring the boundaries between the two universes.
Why? Firstly for budgetary reasons: the development of avionics solutions is very costly and the doubling of costs (on the one hand civil avionics, on the other military avionics) is increasingly unbearable. Secondly, for reasons of user experience: the needs of civilian and military pilots are often very similar and the solutions proposed may therefore be largely common.
At Thales we have fully taken into account this evolution. The first in the industry to do so, we have adopted a dual approach from the initial design phase onwards. Our avionics solutions are synchronously civil and military. By building our solutions with common technological "bricks", we enable our customers to save both time and money while benefiting from the most advanced innovations.
Vincent Megaïdes, Strategy Director Flight Avionics at Thales
Three examples amongst many illustrate this:
- Our Flight management system (FMS) solution was first installed on civilian Sikorsky helicopters, then integrated with our ATR avionics suite, before being implemented on US Army Blackhawk helicopters. The result is a massive simplification of experience for military pilots, who can now use the same flight management system when flying in civil space or in combat mode.
- Our Head-up display (HUD) system, which equips both A380 and A400M aircraft, is a major situational awareness contributor. It allows greater visibility throughout all phases of flight, and especially during take-off and landing. It provides pilots with essential, intuitive and immediate trajectory information through symbols presented over the pilot's external view.
- Finally, our new-generation connected avionics offering (pictured) will offer civil and military aircraft and helicopter pilots all the critical information they need in an intuitive way, taking advantage of the latest innovations in human-machine interface (HMI).
Our expertise on both sides - military and commercial - allows us to design the most disruptive and innovative solutions by consolidating both worlds.