Eurofighter's Typhoon - the export version of the Eurofighter - is expected to be the first production fighter to have voice control in the cockpit. Flight testing of direct voice input (DVI) is planned for next year, but the first equipment will be delivered to CASA in May for integration.

The DVI system is a module supplied by Smiths Industries, which plugs into the fighter's communications and audio management unit (CAMU), supplied by Computing Devices (CDC). Smiths has just delivered prototype modules to CDC, of Hastings, UK, for installation in the CAMU, which is the heart of the communications system.

Prime contractor CDC, which leads a consortium comprising MID of Italy, Enosa of Spain and Teldix of Germany, says the interactive voice capability "-is probably the most exciting aspect of the CAMU, and of the Eurofighter Typhoon itself". The system will allow the pilot to control verbally aircraft functions such as displays, radios and navigation systems. Speech feedback will allow the pilot to ask the aircraft for information and receive it verbally. "Not only does this reduce pilot workload, it avoids head-down time," says CDC.

The DVI module is a speaker-dependent, connected word, voice recognition system. It can recognise up to 200 words, any 25 of which may be active at a given time, says CDC. The system must be "trained" to recognise each pilot's voice on a ground station. The target recognition performance is more than 95% in the cockpit environment.

The system is coupled with voice warning generation modules in the CAMU, which provide direct voice output. These modules, the responsibility of Enosa, can generate more than 200 voice warnings and provide the voice response to speech commands from the DVI system.

Voice control is planned for the Typhoon from the first production aircraft. A CAMU production investment contract was received last July, and delivery of the first production-standard equipment for avionics rig testing is scheduled for March next year, according to CDC.

The first production Typhoon will also have liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), an upgrade from the prototype aircraft, which use cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays. The change was made because technology has moved on, CRTs are increasingly difficult to source and LCDs are lighter, smaller, consume less power, generate less heat and are more reliable.

Smiths Industries supplied the original multifunction head-down displays (MHDDs) for the Eurofighter prototypes. It used colour CRTs from US company Planar Advance, and has switched to active-matrix LCDs from the same supplier.

The Typhoon cockpit will have three 160mm (6.25in)-square MHDDs. Smiths is supplying prototype units to British Aerospace for ground rig work, and the LCDs are expected to be flight testing in the rear cockpit of a two-seat prototype "within the next six months", says the company. Smiths' partner on the programme is Germany's VDO.

Smiths is starting to deliver production 125mm-square LCD head-down displays for the BAe Hawk lead-in fighter trainer selected by the Royal Australian Air Force. "The Hawk glass is good, and the Eurofighter glass even better," says Smiths. Both displays will have new Vivid glass from Planar. "The first Smiths Industries programme to use Vivid glass is the Eurofighter, but that does not enter production until October 2000, so the first to get the displays will be the Hawk," says the company.

By using direct voice input and flat-panel displays, and with other upgrades in the pipeline, Eurofighter is positioning the Typhoon for future avionics growth.


The Typhoon's cockpit avionics are being shaped for future growth

Source: Flight International