Head-up synthetic vision coming to Globals next year

 - July 28, 2009, 6:58 AM

The Flight Dynamics division of Rockwell Collins next year plans to introduce a synthetic-vision system (SVS) with its Head-Up Guidance System (HGS, aka HUD) for Bombardier’s Global Express. The SVS HGS will be part of Rockwell’s Pro Line Fusion flight deck in the newest Global Express, and will overlay the normal HGS guidance symbology with a computer-generated, correctly oriented picture of the terrain ahead. 

Although the Global Express and other future platforms will carry a digitized terrain database for TAWS, Flight Dynamics has opted for a proprietary database solely dedicated to its SVS. The SVS overlay will be pilot selectable, and Flight Dynamics will provide the capability to select either SVS or infrared enhanced-vision system (EVS) overlays on the HGS screen. The benefit of EVS is that while the SVS provides a full picture of the terrain ahead, it is based on a digitized terrain map of all previously surveyed fixed objects, whereas the infrared EVS shows non-surveyed objects such as an aircraft just taxiing onto the runway or a vehicle crossing the runway farther down.

AIN recently flew an SVS-equipped HGS simulator at Flight Dynamics’ Portland, Ore. facility. The difference in situational awareness between using just the basic HGS guidance symbology and symbology overlaid with the full, VFR-like, SVS image is dramatic. It was not a question of confidence, since the basic HGS is extraordinarily accurate, even more so than flying an EFIS ILS approach, for example. Instead, one experienced a compelling feeling of comfort in seeing a VFR-like world while approaching the airport (identified by an attention-getting sphere), from a distance. Drawing closer, I had to pull my eyes away from the computed image and concentrate on the basic HGS symbology, which represented the real world, rather than the computer’s interpretation of it.

Nevertheless, in combining the two technologies, Flight Dynamics has unquestionably taken another giant step forward in flight safety.