French firm Thales and MRO service provider StandardAero have successfully completed the first flight test of a four-axis helicopter autopilot system.

Specially designed for Airbus AS350 and H125 helicopters, the compact autopilot system offers easy retrofit and provides a simplified operation for pilots.

The system also offers stability augmentation, attitude retention and flight director modes, including altitude or heading hold.

Thales flight avionics activities vice-president Jean-Paul Ebanga said: “The launch of this flight test programme is a key milestone for StandardAero and Thales.

“This product combines Thales’ Autopilot experience, based on billions of flight hours accumulated and outstanding customer satisfaction, with StandardAero’s extensive aftermarket capabilities in aircraft modification and certification.

“We aim to bring a user-friendly solution offering an unparalleled level of safety and reliability to the light helicopter market.”

The achievement is crucial for the system’s supplemental type certification (STC) process and launch of an autopilot solution to the light helicopter market in the middle of next year.

Thales offers advanced control management systems, four trim actuators, three intelligent linear actuators and the data concentrator/control panel while StandardAero contributes its experience in aircraft modification and certification.

During this winter season, the companies will continue flight testing at StandardAero’s facility in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is expected to certify the system next year.

Earlier this year, the partnership announced that automotive accessories company WeatherTech agreed to be its launch customer.

In November 2019, Thales launched its new PureFlyt flight management system (FMS), which is designed to improve flight safety and efficiency.