Airbus begins flight tests of A340 digital head up display

Manufacturer aims for parallel certification of new technology on all types next year

Airbus has started flight testing the Thales-developed liquid-crystal-based digital head-up display (HUD) in a bid to gain certification by the second half of next year. Thales says that, in comparison with cathode-ray tubes, the liquid-crystal display provides greater reliability and increased luminosity.
The HUD provides a 35 x 26 field of view and the equipment weighs 23kg (51Ib). Thales has installed the system, known as D-HUDS, on board an Airbus A340-600 widebody. It will also fit the display to an Airbus narrowbody and the ultralarge A380 to achieve parallel certification across the manufacturer's entire family.

This follows Airbus's selection of Thales two years ago to design and produce the equipment. Head-up displays have previously been based on cathoderay tube technology.

Rival HUD firm Rockwell Collins Flight Dynamics, which was beaten to the Airbus contract by Thales, performed the first test flights of its own liquid-crystal head-up display with an Embraer 170 on 7 April six days ahead of the first A340-600 flight with the Thales system. The display shipset comprises three line-replaceable units: the head-up display computer, which receives and processes the data and generates the graphics; the projector unit; and the fold-down optical combiner, which aligns the graphic overlay and the real-world view. Airbus will be able to offer the digital head-up display as a single or dual installation.

Carriers including Air France and FedEx have already opted for the system on the A380 and it will also be fitted in the cockpit of the Airbus Military A400M transport aircraft.