Test pilots from NASA and Gulfstream this summer are flying
a GV equipped with a synthetic-vision system (SVS) intended to improve pilot situational awareness and prevent CFIT accidents. NASA is using the airplane to explore advanced vision and runway-incursion technologies that could one day be brought to civil aviation.
Flying with a combination of head-up displays, an advanced multi- scan weather radar, advanced sensors, a voice-recognition system and cockpit displays with computer-generated images of the terrain, the GV pilots in late June flew a series of instrument approaches to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia using only SVS for visual guidance.
Gulfstream senior production test pilot Chip King served as the pilot-in-command and flew with NASA-designated pilot Mike Norman, who evaluated the SVS. With his side of the cockpit windshield intentionally blocked, Norman flew approaches using the computer-generated graphical information displayed on an LCD monitor and on the HUD.
Improving Situational Awareness, Reducing CFIT
In addition to NASA’s SVS evaluation, a runway incursion prevention system (RIPS) also is being tested aboard the GV. Both experimental programs are part of NASA’s Aviation Safety and Security Program, which researches and evaluates new onboard systems that are intended to improve pilot situational awareness and reduce CFIT accidents and runway incursions.
Also on board the aircraft were six NASA researchers and a Gulfstream flight-test engineer. From workstations set up in the cabin, they monitored the multiple SVS and RIPS systems to determine the accuracy of the terrain database, the responsiveness of the pilots to the information displayed and the sensitivity level of the sensors and radars used to detect obstructions not present within the database.
“We are proud to take part in this advanced vision system development program,” said Pres Henne, Gulfstream senior vice president of programs, engineering and test. “Like NASA, we’re very concerned with improving pilot situational awareness, as evidenced by our development of the Gulfstream [Kollsman] enhanced-vision system.”
The NASA evaluations will continue throughout this summer, moving next to Reno, Nev., where pilots will fly with SVS near mountains and tall buildings. NASA plans to wrap up flight testing by the end of this month and will use findings from the evaluation to bring related technologies to aviation.
Gulfstream was the first business jet maker to add infrared enhanced-vision system technology to its airplanes, and officials from the Savannah, Ga. company are on record as saying that SVS is a capability they would like to bring to Gulfstreams.
Chelton Flight Systems of Boise, Idaho, sells the only FAA-approved SVS, the $75,000 FlightLogic avionics system, which is flying in a variety of airplanes from piston singles to Citation 501s and has been selected for phase II of the FAA’s Alaska Capstone program.