Air Transport World

Raising the power bar: A350 XWB avionics systems are an evolution of A330 and A380 systems.(AVIONICS)

WHEN AIRBUS ANNOUNCED THE A350 XWB featuring a completely new wing and wider fuselage made with carbon fiber, engineers at Airbus, Thales and Honeywell no doubt were eager to turn their talents to the cockpit and avionics and improve upon the A330 and A380 configurations proposed for earlier A350 studies. Judging from the resultant transformation, they must have taken a good, hard look at the 787's futuristic cockpit and integrated avionics and avidly set themselves the goal of not only meeting but exceeding this state of the art.

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Inside the cockpit of today's definitive XWB, changes include the keyboard cursor control unit with trackball input and the six identical and bigger (15 in.) liquid-crystal displays replacing the A380's 10-screen layout (including the two onboard information system displays).

"The first thing you will notice when walking into the A350 cockpit are the onboard airport navigation displays--the secondary panels which are located behind the sidestick," notes Raphael Sheffield, technical marketing analyst at Airbus. "You will also notice that the FMS is no longer the traditional type of small screen. Now you have a flatscreen LCD for the FMS, and also for the ECAM panel. The VHF console also now uses digital LCDs as opposed to the old alphanumeric displays which look like what you used to have on your alarm clock."

He continues: "With the A380, A350 and 787, we are seeing FMSs which are much more sophisticated and displays which can provide much more graphical information and processing power. Overall the avionics are moving into a totally different realm as the rise in capabilities is exponential. …

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