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FAA approves Avidyne helicopter FMS

Helios was announced in January 2020 and designed with turbine rotorcraft in mind. Avidyne Corp. CEO Dan Schwinn noted at the time that while Helios and Atlas, a dzus-mounted multifunction FMS made for turbine airplanes, share many features and functions, they are not the same. Helios, he noted, was “built from the ground up to meet the rigorous demands of the rotorcraft environment.”

Helios gives users the option to perform virtually all functions via touch-screen interface, or using the more traditional knobs and buttons, or a combination of the two. An approved GPS position source for ADS-B that supports satellite-based approach guidance, Helios incorporates many features found in other Avidyne avionics, including one-touch departure, airway, and arrival navigation, along with Avidyne’s patented waypoint nomination feature, GeoFill.

Avidyne built its business around modern avionics made to replace older models with minimal fuss, and Helios is no exception, designed to integrate with a direct interface to many popular electronic flight information systems made by Honeywell and Collins Aerospace, and build on their capabilities. For example, with EFISs certified before localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches were available, Helios can facilitate coupled approach guidance on these and other satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) approaches, Avidyne noted in a news release.

The Helios flight management system serves as an approved GPS position source for ADS-B. In addition to a moving map with airspace, navigation, and airport information display capabilities, the base unit can also display traffic and weather overlays. Optional add-ons include a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system with power line database, as well as night vision, radar, and RS-170 video display integration. Image courtesy of Avidyne.

Many features not found in rival FMS, according to Avidyne, include the hybrid touch-screen interface, a moving map with many display options, including weather and traffic overlays, and integration with ForeFlight and other popular electronic flight bag apps. Helios supports required navigation performance (RNP) and area navigation (RNAV) capabilities, lateral navigation/vertical navigation (LNAV/VNAV), LNAV-only, and approach procedures with vertical (APV) approach modes.

The base price ($23,999) has not changed since the product was first announced, and an optional, integrated 16-watt VHF nav/com/ILS radio brings the price to $29,999. Helios is 7.5 inches tall, 5.75 inches wide, and 10.615 inches deep, sized to fit neatly in the space vacated by a legacy FMS.

“Avidyne Helios gives our customers a powerful new option when upgrading their GPS/FMS navigation capabilities, especially for single- and twin-turbine-class helicopter operators with older-generation EFIS displays where options have been limited,” said John Talmadge, Avidyne’s vice president of worldwide sales, in the May 18 news release. “This TSO approval allows MRO facilities to begin their own Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) programs and field-approved installations into rotor-wing aircraft.”

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