Honeywell will supply flight deck technologies for Vertical Aerospace’s urban air mobility (UAM) demonstrator vehicle under a letter of intent announced this week.
The agreement encompasses multi-touch displays, avionics systems controls, avionics software, and the vehicle operating system. It builds on previously announced contracts to equip the eVTOL aircraft with Honeywell’s compact fly-by-wire system and flight control software.
According to a press release, the demonstrator program will help Vertical Aerospace understand flight characteristics, system requirements, and the flight deck user interface to further the development of its UAM vehicle. The company has already built and flown two full-scale eVTOL demonstrators — most recently the fully electric Seraph — and Vertical Aerospace CEO Michael Cervenka said the company is “well advanced” in the development of its next-generation, passenger-carrying aircraft.
“We are excited at the prospect of broadening our already fantastic partnership with Honeywell, enabling our vehicles to leverage not only Honeywell’s state-of-the-art flight control systems, but also to marry these with the very latest in intuitive and safe flight deck technologies,” he stated.
Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager of UAS/UAM for Honeywell, said the collaboration aims to demonstrate successful simplified vehicle operations, “which essentially is about making these aircraft more intuitive and flattening the learning curve to safely fly them.”
In conventional aircraft, pilots command specific movements of flight surfaces, and must develop a theoretical and intuitive understanding of the effects of various control inputs through extensive training. In fly-by-wire eVTOL aircraft, however, flight control computers translate control inputs into desired outcomes, enabling much simpler pilot interfaces.
As reported in the Vertical Flight Society magazine Vertiflite, Honeywell has been using its own simulators to develop a system in which pilot controls are used to provide general commands — such as moving a cursor on a screen to say “fly here” — which the flight control computer then determines how to execute.
Such simplified vehicle operations have the potential to greatly reduce pilot training requirements while maintaining a high level of safety — something Honeywell describes as “a transformative next step in the UAM industry.”
“Vertical Aerospace has been a wonderful partner, and we’re excited to be part of its demonstrator aircraft to address this challenge and, in doing so, help move the entire industry forward,” Fymat stated.