Thales Announces TopMax For the Challenger 350

Industry’s first wearable HUD is a “game changer" for Thales.

Thales TopMax Wearable HUD display
View through TopMax Wearable HUD shows synthetic runway and terrain.Thales

Thales and StandardAero announced at the National Business Aviation Association's 2019 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas this week that the Bombardier Challenger 350 will be the first airframe to be certified for TopMax, Thales' new Wearable head-up display.

TopMax is an industry first, resulting from Thales' decades-long experience in military helmet mounted display systems (HMDS) and civilian head-up displays (HUD). It is the only wearable HUD system in the business jet industry whose ergonomics and functionalities are specifically adapted to the needs of civil pilots. At a glance, pilots with TopMax have instant and intuitive access to critical flight information for navigation and safety.

A big part of the intuitive nature of the TopMax wearable HUD is the system’s ability to display and prioritize information in different colors, says Yanik Doyon, TopMax Director of Sales and Marketing. “This is really a game changer in the industry, there's nothing like it out there. We of course have the standard color of monochrome green, but TopMax can show the pilot critical information in any color, such as white, red, yellow or for instance, the color blue for the water.”

Doyon said that in flight testing, virtually all pilots were “blown away” by some of the key features of the wearable TopMax HUD. “You can see traffic and terrain in 360 degrees, so if the pilot turns around, he or she would normally only see only the cabin. But by wearing TopMax, they can see right through the cabin and spot traffic behind them.”

Thales TopMax Wearable HUD on display
Thales TopMax Wearable HUD on display at NBAA-BACEDan Pimentel

Another feature the test pilots really love, Doyon said, is the synthetic runways the system displays. “Synthetic runway functionality exists now on traditional HUDs, but you would only see the synthetic runway when you're aligned with the runway. By wearing TopMax, you can look to your right or left and see the synthetic runway no matter where you turn your head. If you remember the Air Canada flight in San Francisco that almost landed on the taxiway a couple of years ago, they would have seen right away that they were not aligned with the correct runway. So we think TopMax will be a game changer in avoiding those types of potential tragedies,” he said.

TopMax is a cost-effective alternative to a traditional fixed head-up display (HUD), and the technology has drawn the attention of several OEMs. “Pretty much all the major OEMs have met with us, whether it's for a static or full simulator demo, or a flight test. Because the system brings so much more functionality to the flight deck than fixed HUDs, we believe strongly that TopMax will become mainstream in five to ten years. It really is an easy retrofit on any type of aircraft because of its minimal footprint in the cockpit, and offers an ideal combination of operational, technical and life-cycle cost benefits for aircraft owners and operators. And pilots love the lightweight design and simplicity of use,” Doyon said.

The Bombardier Challenger 350 series of aircraft may expect to receive FAA certification for the retrofit upgrade by the end of 2020, with EASA certification to follow. Entry into service is planned for Q1 2021. The product will be certified on the Challenger 300 and Challenger 605/650 platforms once certification is received for the Challenger 350 series, with other airframes to follow.