Chelton Flight Systems and Kollsman are one step closer to introducing technology that can integrate the display symbology from Chelton’s FlightLogic EFIS with the infrared video image of Kollsman’s GAViS (general aviation vision system), a forward-looking camera that holds the promise of giving pilots a new way of seeing the world ahead.
The companies signed a nondisclosure agreement last month after announcing the collaboration at the NBAA Convention in October. Chelton’s next-generation displays, selected for the Bell 417, will be the platform for the integration software, which will present the infrared enhanced-vision image on the new type of VGA screens.
Unlike synthetic-vision systems that show only a computer-generated model of the scene ahead, the Chelton/Kollsman system presents live video from a small camera mounted in the nose of the aircraft. Pilots will be able to switch between the synthetic and enhanced EFIS views, selecting the presentation best suited for the circumstance. For example, the infrared camera cannot see through solid clouds but it is beneficial at night and in certain low-visibility conditions, such as when flying in haze. Chelton thinks helicopter pilots especially will benefit from the technology, which can overlay synthetic views of obstacles and runways on the IR image for an extra layer of protection at low altitude.
Having a real-time infrared image of the operating environment on the PFD also lets the pilots see other aircraft, ground vehicles, people or animals on the runway. “The integration of an actual forward-looking infrared camera, such as Kollsman’s GAViS, will blend in the real world and enhance the image,” noted Chelton Flight Systems president Gordon Pratt. “A better image will mean safer takeoffs, landings and flight in terrain, especially at night.”
Chelton’s FlightLogic EFIS was the first civil cockpit to take advantage of synthetic-vision and highway-in-the-sky technology. The company has obtained blanket STC approval to install the EFIS in more than 740 aircraft and helicopter models. The display system started out as a non-certified product for kitbuilt airplanes and gained notoriety when the FAA selected it for the Alaska Capstone project to test advanced avionics. Kollsman is best known as the supplier of the $500,000 cryogenically cooled EVS on Gulfstream’s large jets, but more recently has announced a desire to expand its product portfolio through collaborations with companies such as Chelton.
Because additional RS 170 input ports are needed for the integration of EVS technology with the EFIS displays, the infrared capability will be available only on the new version of the screens running the latest software. Chelton and Kollsman plan to begin testing with prototype displays in the second quarter. Chelton Flight Systems is taking the lead in certifying the collaborative products, while Kollsman, a division of Israel’s Elbit Systems, will provide certifiable products and certification support.