According to a recent company press release, Bell Helicopter has introduced a new autopilot kit that is designed specifically to integrate with the Garmin G1000H avionics suite in the Bell 407GX, further enhancing the technology within the aircraft’s cockpit.
The new autopilot kit option features two-axis functionality with a cyclic force trim and a Stability and Command Augmentation System (SCAS) available at all speeds with altitude and heading preselects. The system can also be directed to maintain heading and altitude or navigation course and altitude. A “Go-Around” mode can be activated by a switch to provide automatic leveling and transition to climb.
Danny Maldonado, Bell Helicopter’s executive vice president of commercial sales and marketing, said about the new cockpit technology in the press release, “The autopilot option is a logical extension of the fully-integrated glass cockpit offered in the Bell 407GX. We wanted to provide a product that is not only compatible with the Garmin system, but also make sure that operators could easily integrate and continue to get the best safety, performance and reliability out of their aircraft.”
The system, which likely underwent thorough integration testing to ensure high code quality, is derived from Bell’s 429 digital automatic flight control system, working with the Garmin G-1000H’s navigation modes and display. It also incorporates audio for caution alerts and mode annunciations as well as a night vision imaging system (NVIS).
Bell’s new autopilot flight kit has been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) for VFR (visual flight rule) operations. Integration testing will likely remain an important part of the software engineering process as it becomes a more vital aspect of today’s aircraft industry.