Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on board its Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies. Airbus Helicopters’ Flightlab provides an agile and efficient test bed 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.
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 perception. 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 failure.
Testing on the 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 formulae such as UAM.