Boeing has flight tested a talking cockpit management system, called the rotorcraft pilot's associate (RPA), in a modified AH-64 Longbow Apache attack helicopter, part of an $80 million advanced technology demonstration by the firm's Phantom Works.

The system, which uses pilot-activated voice commands, includes new special cockpit controls and displays and a four-axis digital flight control system. The RPA uses artificial intelligence to assist navigation and other support, aiding pilot decision making in high workload non-combat situations.

The first flight tested the integration of the special cockpit configuration for the system with the Apache Longbow. Tests included sideward, forward and rearward flight, with a top speed of 155kt (285km/h). Initial flight testing of the RPA as the primary mission system begins this month, with full demonstration flights at the Yuma proving ground in January 1999.

"The RPA promises to make next generation combat helicopters a quantum leap better than the Longbow Apache," says programme manager Lee Daniel.

Source: Flight International