On the opening day of the NBAA show, Thales unveils TopMax, the world’s first civilian head-worn display, providing a 3600 field of view and total eye-out functionalities that increase safety for business jet pilots, especially during critical phases and in low visibility. TopMax is the result of Thales’s decades long experience in military helmet mounted sight displays (HMSD) and civilian head up displays (HUD). The group’s innovation teams have long been seeking to address the contradictory needs for an affordable, compact head-up vision system with an extra-large field of view for the civilian market to complement existing HUD systems, a complex technical challenge for the whole civil aerospace market, and much more for smaller business aircraft.
Thales worked on the challenge by taking inspiration from vision systems available in the consumer tech industry and, using assets from military HMSD, they designed a brand new system that can be worn by civilian pilots and does not require a large fixed mount.
The result is TopMax, a lightweight head-worn display that completely bridges the technological gap between a military HMSD and a civilian HUD. First demonstrated at the Paris Air Show 2015, TopMax, provides low visibility take off/landing functions, Enhanced Flight Vision and Synthetic Vision capabilities of a fixed HUD, but like an HMSD, it gives a 3600 field of view and total eye-out functionality. To add to this Thales was able to integrate functionalities at the heart of its HMSD products, including head tracking system for target designation and cueing functions. This evolution allows a civilian pilot to look at objects like 3D traffic to better understand their position and, in some cases, like waypoints, select them for inclusion in the FMS as direct destinations, in the same way a military pilot can select targets visually for inclusion in targeting operations. This translates into significant benefits to business jet pilots, whose mission types, in certain respects, are not far off military missions. Both face challenges such as approach and landing at smaller airports with low visibility conditions and require a high level of situational awareness in a highly flexible operational context. With TopMax, pilots are thus able to achieve their mission and serve the needs of their passengers in a more efficient and safer way.