Many of the leading eVTOL developers continue generating and testing these novel aircrafts. They have to consider the best way to configure eVTOL cockpits, train operators of these vehicles, and effectively display information to the pilot such as flight mode and battery power levels. Continue reading to learn what the eVTOL cockpit avionics configurations look like.
For electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, certification appears to be on the horizon. Many of the leading eVTOL developers expect to certify their aircraft in the next few years. As they continue developing and testing these novel aircraft, they are finalizing the designs and configurations of the vehicles.
Renderings and photos of the exteriors of these eVTOL aircraft are commonly released, but less is known about what goes into the interior—and particularly, what the avionics will look like inside the cockpit of an eVTOL.
eVTOL aircraft designs combine components of both conventional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters while including some innovative aspects. The transition between forward flight and vertical flight modes, and the use of electric power, mean that the cockpits of eVTOL aircraft will differ from those found in today’s aircraft.
Developers have to consider how to best configure eVTOL cockpits, what training will look like for the operators of these vehicles, and how to effectively display information to the pilot such as flight mode and battery power levels.
Joby’s eVTOL “uses a unified flight control system, which is based on 30 years of research that resulted in the cockpit architecture of the F-35B, to combine vertical and cruise flight into the same control interface,” shared Greg Bowles, Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Joby. He noted that their aircraft’s development builds upon lessons learned from early vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, like the Harrier jet.
One of the priorities at Joby is designing the pilot experience to feature a significantly lower workload compared to traditional aircraft. This has been a key focus from the early phases of design, said Bowles.
The design of the aircraft’s cockpit, and in particular the unified flight controls, are intended to facilitate the transition for pilots familiar with flying conventional airplanes or helicopters. Bowles confirms that most of the avionics and displays will be familiar to certified pilots.
“At the core of designing the Joby flight control system and the cockpit, we have focused on ensuring the pilots can focus more attention on higher-level decision making,” he added. “We continue to conduct lots of human factors testing with a diverse group of pilots.”
Compared to some VTOL aircraft that may be more difficult to operate, Joby’s eVTOL uses the same control input to speed up, slow down, and turn throughout the flight envelope. The aircraft also uses the same control input for climbing and descending.
By making the flight controls easier to manage than those of traditional helicopters, pilots of Joby’s eVTOL will be able to focus on maintaining safety while in flight.