Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Rockwell Collins and Max-Viz of Portland, Ore., have teamed to begin flight tests aboard an FAA aircraft of a guidance system integrating synthetic vision and an infrared enhanced vision system (EVS). They expect the guidance system will validate and complement synthetic vision databases and displays to provide a high level of “ground truth” and eventually enable approaches in very low visibility.
Initial demonstration flights aboard a Boeing 727 flying from the FAA Technical Center at Atlantic City, N.J., began in January and included precision approaches in VMC to Atlantic City’s Bader Field. The dual-purpose military/civil demonstration program is being conducted under sponsorship of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Civil and Military Tests
Further flights began early last month near Kirtland AFB, N.M., with both precision approaches to Albuquerque International Airport and military low-level terrain-following demonstrations over New Mexico’s rugged landscape. Landing approach tests are continuing at Atlantic City through this month.
Dubbed “SE-Vision” (synthetic-enhanced), the installation includes a head-up display (HUD) and instrument panel multifunction display from prime contractor Collins along with an enhanced, ground-object-locating weather radar; the synthetic vision digital database and a synthetic/enhanced vision integration processing system.
Max-Viz provides a dual-band EVS-2500 infrared sensor with image fusion and separately optimized image enhancement for HUD and head-down displays. Max-Viz said its uncooled infrared cameras, operating in the three- to six-micron and eight- to 13-micron ranges, performed particularly well in January against very cold snow and ice-dominated background scenes.
The correlation of synthetic-vision-generated scenes and real-time EVS imagery, according to Dr. Richard Kerr, chief scientist at Max-Viz, “permits direct, EVS-based integrity monitoring and derivation of a separate-thread navigation signal. The result is continuous, real-time verification of the synthetic-vision imagery and related flight guidance cues.” Kerr added that uncooled infrared sensor performance now exceeds that of cryogenically cooled cameras in EVS applications.