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Airbus Begins Deliveries of Touchscreen Cockpit Display-Equipped A350s
Operators of one of Airbus’ most technologically advanced aircraft will soon be receiving an upgrade to their orders as Airbus has started delivering A350 XWB aircraft equipped with new touchscreen cockpit displays. The new displays have been developed specifically for the aircraft in partnership with the aerospace technology company Thales and will lead to enhanced operational efficiency, greater crew interaction and smoother information management.
The first aircraft fitted with the displays was delivered on Dec. 18 to China Eastern Airlines, 13 months after the airline began operating the Airbus A350-900 XWB in November 2018. As of writing, around 20 customers have selected the touchscreen option for their new A350s.
The A350’s cockpit features six large screens with the new option allowing three of those screens to become touch-capable for the pilots when presenting Electronic Flight Bag applications. the touchscreen capability complements the existing keyboard integrated into each pilot’s retractable table as well as the keyboard-cursor control unit located on the center console.
The new technology was certified for the A350 by EASA in November and allows pilots to use pinch-zooming and panning gestures, and will facilitate better interaction between both pilots. The touchscreens are particularly useful when entering performance data into the flight management system before take-off, in-flight so the pilots can access navigation charts and during approach preparation.
During phases of the flight where pilots are faced with a high workload, the touchscreen capability reduces the need for pilots to have to flip between different displays when using applications and reduces the time spent maneuvering the cursor. The idea is not unheard of as pilots already use touchscreen iPads or other tablets to view charts and calculate performance data.
The Head of Airbus’ A350 XWB program, Patrick Piedrafita, said in a press release about the touchscreen displays: “Airbus continues to set the industry trends in aircraft cockpit design with these new interactive touchscreen displays in the A350. With our partner Thales we are very proud to bring this technology to our customers, to enhance their aircrews’ operations.”
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