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May 2006 edition

Something new for some things old

A new open architecture air data system, which could cut the costs of updating older helicopters, is undergoing flight tests at Agusta Westland Italy.

The system has been developed by engineers from Revue Thommen and Agusta Aerospace Corporation and will be integrated into the A109 Power helicopter cockpit. Full technical details are being kept under wraps at least until the flight tests are complete.

But the concept will be commercially targeted at older helicopters ready for upgrades including air ambulances, law enforcement and coastguard.

The upgrade initiative is an early result of Swiss manufacturer Revue Thommen’s decision to open a facility in Addison, Texas, in January. Headed by avionics veteran Ken Paul it serves the large after-market of executive aircraft that have been in service for more than 20 years.

Founded as a watchmaker in 1853, Revue Thommen entered the world of aviation in 1920, producing a clock for flight decks. In 1936 it created mechanical aircraft instruments for the Swiss air force. Today its products cover mechanical and electronic flight instruments including speed indicators, altimeters, vertical speed indicators, clocks and chronographs, air data displays and air data computers.

Rudolf Iten, Thommen’s director of marketing, said the system would be in production later this year.

He said the aim was to convert existing cockpits with the same Man/Machine Interface (MMI) into “next generation” flight decks with other systems that need air data ba....

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