Thales Avionics and Smiths Aerospace plan to begin delayed in-service trials of their jointly developed Airbus flight management system (FMS) in September.

Despite the severe delays, Smiths director of Airbus programmes Dale Masbruch expects European certification soon, allowing 10 Alitalia aircraft to begin using the system in September, ending Honeywell's Airbus FMS monopoly. Asimilar US trial should start in October. "The system will be ready for general introduction at the start of 2003," he says.

Smiths and Thales launched the programme in 1998, but experienced an 18-month delay caused by software integration problems. Customers were forced to fit an interim Honeywell FMS, although none cancelled their orders. The first release, Revision 1, is intended for single-aisle aircraft. Revision 2, for widebodies, will take another 18 months. Most orders so far have been for narrowbody aircraft.

Masbruch says it has not yet been decided which customers will take delivery next. Customers include Air France, British Airways, Korean Air and US Airways.

The companies recently lost the contest to be the sole FMS source for the Airbus A380 to Honeywell.

Source: Flight International