Gulfstream, NASA Partner on SSBJ External Vision
Testing under way at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB in California is aiming to prove whether pilots can use high-definition video cameras and LCD monitors to take off and land a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) in lieu of natural forward vision. NASA is partnering with Gulfstream on the so-called external-vision system (XVS) project, which is being conducted to identify human factors issues associated with reduced forward visibility created by the elongated nose of an SSBJ. Besides giving pilots a virtual view of the outside world, XVS would guide them to the runway, warn of other aircraft near their flight path and provide additional visual aids for approaches, landings and takeoffs. During the XVS test flights, which have been ongoing since late last month in NASA’s F-18B research aircraft, the aft canopy is covered so that the pilot flying from the rear seat can see only a 22-inch HD display and through small holes to the sides. A safety pilot flies in the front seat. NASA and Gulfstream plan to complete several night flights before the end of the month and fly with an FAA pilot in the aft seat.