Thales has delivered the software for the first Project "Julius" cockpit upgrade for the UK's Boeing CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter fleet, keeping the first modified example on track to fly later this year.

"We are finalising the qualification work now using a simulator, and will marry up the hardware and software in around one month," says Peter Hitchcock, vice-president avionics for Thales UK. Two of the Royal Air Force's aircraft are in modification at Fleetlands in Hampshire under the Boeing-led modification deal, signed in December 2008.

Modifications include the integration of new multifunction cockpit displays, a digital moving map and a tablet-based electronic flight bag. "We have re-used as much as possible from the core [Thales] TopDeck system," Hitchcock says.

"We're doing as much as we can to speed the introduction of this capability," he adds. "Every day lost is a day when someone wants it."

The Project Julius partners will upgrade the cockpits of 46 UK Chinooks, taking them to a new HC4 standard. A separate planned purchase of 24 Chinook HC6 transports will lead to the introduction of aircraft with similar cockpits, but also featuring Boeing's digital automatic flight control system to boost safety while landing in low-visibility conditions.

Source: Flight Daily News