Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The special forces variant of the NH90 transport helicopter is equipped with the helmet-mounted vision and display system, the so-called TopOwl Digital Display System of the new generation. This helmet system from Thales uses augmented reality to improve the operational skills of attack helicopter pilots, especially when flying in environments where visibility is severely impaired. TopOwl was also selected for the Standard 3 upgrade of the Tiger attack helicopter, which is being jointly developed by France, Germany and Spain.

The system was developed and refined over the last 20 years in collaboration with the French Defense Procurement Authority (DGA) and the operating staff and is now one of the most powerful in its class.

The TopOwl helmet has proven itself in several areas of application since 2005. The new digital generation offers high-resolution display and lossless live video streaming to expand the helicopter's flight range in poor visibility. It uses the latest digital technologies and is described as cyber-secure from the start.

Using the TopOwl Digital Display reduces the pilot's fatigue. The crew members work together more efficiently because the relevant information is displayed in the pilot's field of vision. In addition, a spatially coordinated audio warning system including technology for reducing ambient noise is integrated.

TopOwl also offers flight safety functions for missions without line of sight by using a combination of augmented reality, synthetic terrain data and information from 2D and 3D cameras and other sensors. It was developed for day and night operation and supports pilots when landing under extremely poor conditions, such as brownout, whiteout, heavy fog and dark night missions.

The tailor-made helmet seating system adapts the helmet to the shape of each pilot's head. The hardware design of the latest generation of the TopOwl helmet has been further refined to facilitate integration, lower power consumption and reduce overall weight. The simplified connection cables make it easier for crew members to leave the helicopter in an emergency, especially when ditching at sea.

Gerhard Heiming