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Cobham Helicopter Stability, Autopilot System Receives First FAA Certification

Robinson 44 Is First, Other Models To Follow

Cobham's HeliSAS two-axis helicopter stability and autopilot system has received its first Supplemental Type Certification (STC) from the FAA for use in a Robinson model R44 aircraft. Working with Hoh Aeronautics, Inc. of Lomita, California, Cobham is in the process of achieving HeliSAS certification for use on the Bell 206, Bell 407, Eurocopter AS350, and U.S. Navy's Bell-made TH-57 helicopters.

HeliSAS is a two-axis attitude hold, attitude command, flight control system. The system has two basic functions, a Stability Augmentation System (SAS) to aid with aircraft stability and autopilot outer loop control modes for altitude hold, heading select and navigation sensor coupling. The SAS and Autopilot System provide a significant reduction in pilot workload, from takeoff to landing.

The HeliSAS system offers a number of advantages over previously-certified helicopter autopilot systems in terms of its ease-of-installation and competitive pricing.  In addition, HeliSAS' parallel design requires fewer components, significantly reducing system weight.  These factors combine to make HeliSAS particularly well-suited for helicopters with hydraulic control systems.  It provides helicopter pilots with precise control during all modes of flight, regardless of wind conditions or shifts in weight. The system is designed to be engaged at all times: "on" before takeoff and "off" after landing, resulting in a significantly reduced pilot workload.

The "outer loop" or autopilot functions, once reserved for higher priced and more complex stabilization systems, are included in the HeliSAS system:

  • Heading select and hold
  • Altitude hold
  • ILS localizer and glide slope capture and tracking, including back course
  • VOR capture and tracking
  • GPS steering
  • LVAV/VNAV approach capability


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