As Boeing 787 deliveries ramp up, Asian airlines that are to receive a total of more than 240 Dreamliners will be able to take advantage of a unique capability afforded by the Rockwell Collins HGS-6000 head-up guidance system. All of these 787s will be equipped with dual HGS as standard configuration, with a full system available in front of each pilot to use for enhanced situational awareness and safety.
Rockwell Collins has been working with Asian regulators and airlines for more than 10 years to show how HGS can improve flight reliability with lower landing minimums and to provide training for pilots. This work resulted in the first approval for lower landing minimums at an airport in China in 2010, when Rockwell Collins collaborated with the Civil Aviation Administration of China and Shandong Airlines to gain approval for lower landing minima at Qingdao Airport.
The new minimums for HGS-equipped aircraft with properly trained flight crew flying Cat I ILS approaches are 450-meter (1,500-foot) runway visual range and 45-meter (150-foot) decision height, down from the standard Cat I at 550-meter (1,800-foot) runway visual range and 60-meter (200- foot) decision height.
Most Chinese airports have only Cat I approaches, although there are some Cat II approaches, according to Rockwell Collins. HGS has also helped Australia’s Qantas obtain approval for lower landing minimums during RNP approaches, and now 16 Australian airports are using the technology. RNP approaches with HGS have helped Qantas avoid more than 50 weather-related diversions at Queenstown Airport alone since the system was introduced.
The lower minimum capability of HGS results from the position of the HGS display in the pilot’s forward field of view. Pilots can view critical flight information that matches what they see on their instrument panel pilot flight displays without having to look down at the instrument panel.
The HGS display is mounted so the pilot looks through the HGS combiner screen while also looking through the windshield. According to Rockwell Collins, a NASA study on head transition during approach found that on a three-degree glideslope flown at 124 knots, the average time a pilot took to transition from looking at the instrument panel to looking outside was 3.5 seconds, and during this time the aircraft descended another 40 feet.
A 2009 Flight Safety Foundation study showed that HGS technology could have helped to prevent 38 percent of accidents that occurred over a 12-year period. “The study also came to the conclusion that a staggering 69 percent of landing and takeoff accidents and 57 percent of loss of control [accidents] could have been avoided if the pilot had access to the information available on a HGS,” according to Rockwell Collins.