Thales, a pioneer of Integrated Electronic Standby Instruments, has been selected by Airbus Helicopters to provide the third-generation IESI for its new civil and military helicopters: the H135, H145, H160 dual and H175. This new-generation IESI is specifically designed to meet the requirements of helicopter operations, and its environmental footprint is significantly smaller. Progressive entry into service will begin in 2026. On a helicopter, the IESI must be able to withstand high levels of vibration and electromagnetic interference as well as offer the pilot optimal readability in all circumstances, especially when using night vision goggles. In a single piece of equipment, the IESI incorporates pressure probes and sensors, accelerometers and gyrometers, which form an artificial horizon, as well as an LCD display, and provides the pilot with the vital speed, altitude and attitude information needed for safe flying.
“The Thales teams are delighted to have been selected by Airbus Helicopters. Tens of thousands of pilots around the world rely every day and in all circumstances on this safety-critical equipment, which our engineers were first to invent and which has again today demonstrated its importance,” said Jean-Paul Ebanga, Vice President, Flight Avionics, Thales.
Perfectly optimised to the specific constraints of helicopters, the third-generation IESI from Thales also offers enhanced reliability and a smaller environmental footprint, thanks to 25% lower weight and 33% lower power consumption compared to the first generation. The first IESI will enter service in 2027 on the Guépard joint light helicopter, the military version of the H160; it will follow the entry into service of the IESI on the Airbus H135, H145, H160 civil and H175 helicopters, scheduled for early 2026. This latest service entry will be another step in an industry adventure with its roots in France for 30 years. Thales’s Vendôme facility, which has been producing artificial horizons since 1993, became the centre for IESI design, assembly and testing when the Group launched production in the late 1990s. Since then, 30,000 aircraft and helicopters around the world have been equipped with Thales IESI instruments. Three other Thales sites in France are also gearing up for the production and repair of subassemblies for this equipment: Châtellerault, which designs and produces inertial systems, Moirans, which provides the LCD display, and Valence, where the pressure sensors are made.
Airbus Helicopters SAS (formerly Eurocopter Group) is the helicopter manufacturing division of Airbus. It is the largest in the industry in terms of revenues and turbine helicopter deliveries. Its head office is located at Marseille Provence Airport in Marignane, France, near Marseille. The main facilities of Airbus Helicopters are at its headquarters in Marignane, France, and in Donauwörth, Germany, with additional production plants in Canada, Brazil (Helibras), Australia, Spain, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States. The company was renamed from Eurocopter to Airbus Helicopters on 2 January 2014. In 2018, Airbus delivered 356 helicopters, a 54% share of the civil or parapublic market over five seats. Some of the helicopters were renamed in 2015, resembling Airbus airplane naming. When the division changed its name from Eurocopter Group to Airbus Helicopters in 2014 the trade names of the products were changed (applied by 1 January 2016) to reflect this. Suffixes, as well as the differentiation for single or twin engines, were no longer to be used. Military versions were to be symbolized by the letter M. The only exceptions to this new branding were the AS365, the AS565, the Tiger and the NH90, which will keep their current names.
Thales Group is a French multinational company that designs, develops and manufactures electrical systems as well as devices and equipment for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security sectors. The company is headquartered in Paris’ business district, La Défense and its stock is listed on the Euronext Paris. Having been known as Thomson-CSF since its foundation in 1968, the company was rebranded Thales (named after the Greek philosopher Thales, reflecting its pronunciation in French) in December 2000. Thales is partially owned by the French State and operates in more than 56 countries. Thales Group supplies electronic devices and equipment used by the French Armed Forces from its past as Thomson-CSF, including the SPECTRA helmet for the army and the gendarmerie. It has worked with Dassault Aviation on the Dassault Rafale aircraft and made its SPECTRA defensive aids. Thales often worked with Maval Group and designed the electronics used on French ships, and it is involved in the construction of both the Horizon and FREMM programs.