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First flight tests with the EADS obstacle warning system for NH90 successful

  • Military version of HELLAS proves functionality
  • Important requirement for deployment on NH90 met

Friedrichshafen, 03 September 2007

EADS Defence & Security has successfully tested the military version of the HELLAS (helicopter laser radar) obstacle warning system in flight. The equipment known as the Military Obstacle Warning System (MilOWS) is being developed for deployment on the NH90 helicopter.

As the company announced today, the EADS Defence Electronics business unit has carried out the first flight tests with MilOWS on board the HELLAS demonstration helicopter for certification and as the basis for the approval of different helicopter types following the successful development phase. During these tests, the functionality of the equipment and the performance of the sensor were verified under flight conditions as required by the customer. Various obstacle scenarios were flown, including low level flights and spiralling at a roll angle of up to 45°. MilOWS detected the obstacles as expected. The good test results approve the work done by the developers so far as regards the design of this very complex optronic system. The data recorded during the flight tests serve to verify and optimise the algorithms for recognising and classifying obstacles in accordance with military requirement profiles. Further flight tests with this demonstration system are planned for October/ November 2007 in even more complex obstacle scenarios, such as military flight profiles.

“The further development of this military version takes into account the customer’s requirements for a helicopter flying under military marginal conditions and is based on a further development of the technology used in the civilian HELLAS version, which has already been successfully introduced and deployed for several years now by customers including the German federal police and border guard. We expect this version of the product to be successfully marketed throughout the world and have concrete orders in our order books,” explained Bernd Wenzler, Head of the Defence Electronics Business Unit.

During the completed development phase, MilOWS equipment was tested for several months in the NH90 integration rig at the premises of the company Eurocopter in Ottobrunn (Germany). All the interface functionalities with regard to the NH90 system were demonstrated with both pilots and customers being involved. The current version of the MilOWS worked perfectly. Likewise, the preliminary work for the mechanical integration of the obstacle warning system into the NH90 helicopter was carried out successfully at Eurocopter. The basis for qualification in the NH90 system has been created by these important milestones for the integration of the MilOWS obstacle warning system into the NH90 helicopter and the performance of the current test flights.

HELLAS was developed at EADS Defence Electronics for deployment in helicopters. HELLAS is a laser-based, electro-optical system, which detects such obstacles as power lines reliably even if the pilot has difficulties making them out during the flight.

The system scans the area in front of the helicopter with a laser beam, which is not harmful to the human eye, and detects with high precision even thin wire and metal cables at distances of more than one kilometre. With the military version of HELLAS (MilOWS) potential obstacles are classified into different categories, such as power lines, masts or single, isolated objects, and superimposed on a video or FLIR image in the form of obstacle symbols. The pilot sees this information on a display or in the visor of his flight helmet. In addition, acoustic warning signals are generated in order to ensure that attention is ensured in all flight conditions. As a result, the crew is able to detect obstacles at an early stage and to circumnavigate them safely.

Defence Electronics is an integrated Business Unit of EADS Defence & Security (DS). DS is a systems solutions provider combining military air systems, missile systems, communications and intelligence systems, global security solutions, sensor and avionics systems, as well as test and support solutions into a single effective network. In 2006, DS – with its around 23,000 employees – achieved revenues of € 5.9 billion. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2006, EADS generated revenues of € 39.4 billion and employs a workforce of about 116,000.

Lothar Belz
Tel.: +49 (0) 731 392 3681

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