Airbus launches Flightlab - the technology testing lab of the future.
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Airbus Helicopters has begun flight testing aboard Flightlab, a laboratory flight platform dedicated exclusively to the maturation of new technologies. The Airbus Helicopters flightlab provides an agile and efficient test space for rapid testing of technologies that could in the future equip Airbus' current range of helicopters and even future fixed-wing aircraft or (e) VTOL platforms.
Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with Flightlab, as well as the exploration of autonomy and other technologies designed to reduce the noise level of the helicopter or improve flight maintenance and safety.
Flight tests began in April 2020.
Flight tests began in April last year, when the laboratory was used to measure the noise level of the helicopter in urban areas and to study in particular how buildings can affect people's perception.
Another test was conducted in December to assess the Rotor Strike Alerting (RSAS) system, which aims to alert crews to the imminent risk of a collision with the main and tail rotors.
This year's tests will include an image detection solution through the cameras to allow navigation at low altitudes, the viability of a dedicated health and wear monitoring system (HUMS) for light helicopters and an engine backup system, which will provide emergency electricity in the event of a turbine failure.
Testing on Flightlab will continue in 2022 to evaluate a new ergonomic design of intuitive flight controls designed to further reduce pilot loads, 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 evaluate the feasibility of introducing laminar airflow wing technology on a large aircraft, and the A350 Airspace Explorer used to evaluate in-flight interconnected communication technologies.