November 29, 2023

Airbus Helicopters Simplifies Copter Controls with Single-Joystick System

Airbus Helicopters has made a significant breakthrough in simplifying helicopter controls with its new fly-by-wire system. The system, tested on the CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL prototype, reduces the primary flight controls to a single joystick, streamlining operations and enhancing pilot control.

Helicopter controls have traditionally been complex, requiring pilots to manage multiple controls simultaneously. This includes the Cyclic Control, Collective Control, and Foot Pedals, each responsible for different aspects of the helicopter’s movement and direction. The complexity of these controls has often been a challenge for pilots, leading to early retirements.

However, Airbus Helicopters has introduced a fly-by-wire system that leverages computer assistance to simplify the controls. The single joystick takes over all functions, enabling the pilot to perform maneuvers such as take-off, landing, climbing, descent, acceleration, declaration, turning, and approach.

The advantages of the new control system extend beyond simplifying helicopter flying. It is also well-suited for electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, aligning with the future of urban air mobility. Additionally, the simplified interfaces provide pilots with clearer and more intuitive information, enhancing overall mission safety.

Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research & Innovation at Airbus Helicopters, emphasized the significance of the new system, stating, “From the start, we designed this system considering every certification parameter in mind as it will be a big step forward in validating the design of our urban air mobility eVTOL, CityAirbus NextGen. The advantage of an electric flight control system is enormous, especially when it comes to reducing pilot workload and ultimately enhancing mission safety. It is also a great example of how our demonstrators are used to mature the techno-bricks necessary to prepare the future of vertical flight.”
The successful testing of the fly-by-wire system on the FlightLab flying laboratory is a promising step towards revolutionizing helicopter controls. The simplified controls and enhanced pilot control offered by the single joystick system demonstrate Airbus Helicopters’ commitment to advancing the field of vertical flight.

This breakthrough could have far-reaching implications for helicopter operations, making them more accessible and user-friendly. The vision of helicopters becoming a common mode of transportation in urban areas may no longer be as far-fetched as it once seemed. With advancements like the single-joystick system, the possibility of seeing helicopters in suburban driveways could become a reality in the near future.

As Airbus Helicopters continues to refine and develop the fly-by-wire system, the aerospace industry can expect further advancements in helicopter controls and the broader field of eVTOL aircraft. The future of vertical flight is steadily moving forward, driven by innovative technology and a commitment to enhancing safety and efficiency in urban air mobility.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it