Rockwell Collins’ new HGS-5860 is the first head-up display (HUD) system with an LCD projector to be certified on a business jet–Dassault’s Falcon 7X. At EBACE yesterday, Rockwell Collins also announced that Gulfstream has selected the HGS-6000 HUD as standard equipment on the G450 and G550 and as an option on the remainder of its model line. Entry into service for Gulfstream’s version of the Rockwell Collins HUD is expected in 2009.
HUD systems typically use cathode-ray-tube projectors to beam light through collimator lens systems onto a combiner glass display mounted in front of the pilot. The LCD projector weighs much less than a CRT projector, according to a paper written by Rockwell Collins engineers and published by the International Society for Optical Engineering. In addition to brighter raster-type images and a digital interface, the authors wrote, “There are none of the high-voltage power supplies, analog/digital converters and deflection amplifiers found in CRT-drive systems, further improving cost and reliability.”
LCD projectors in HUD systems are not new, but they haven’t been featured in business jets until now. A Thales LCD-based HUD is installed in the Airbus A380.
“This is a big change, a big leap in technology,” said Dennis Helgeson, Rockwell Collins vice president and general manager of business and regional systems, “which helps us in terms of better luminance in the HGS as well as lower power and lower weight.”
While Rockwell Collins HUDs have long been a staple on Falcons, the Gulfstream announcement signals a big win for the avionics manufacturer. Gulfstream has been buying from Honeywell, which developed HUDs in partnership with BAE Systems.
While pricing information on the LCD HUDs is not yet available, Helgeson said that there is a price advantage over CRT-based HUDs. “That’s one of the reasons why [we] and our customers continue to spend money on new technologies,” he said. The smaller size, weight and cost also make it possible to migrate the LCD HUD into smaller aircraft, he added. Whether this might include turboprops, personal jets or VLJs is not yet clear. “We’re still in the frontier stages of how you dramatically get this into smaller packages without giving up much in performance, so that’s quite a tall order right now.”
In terms of technology adoption, the LCD projector’s digital roots signal a move into interesting areas like projection of synthetic-vision system (SVS) information onto the HGS display. Enhanced vision is already available on the HGS and will be offered on the Falcon 7X and Gulfstream installations. For SVS, further research needs to be done, according to Helgeson. “You see more prevalence of synthetic capability on the head-down displays, simply because you’re trying to display a lot of stuff, and it is more difficult to do that on a HUD when you’re trying to look through it. But we’re working on how you would display that type of information without blocking what you’re trying to do with the HUD, which is look through it. It won’t be too long in the future we’ll be talking about synthetic vision and how that will be integrated into our offerings.”
Earlier this year, Boeing announced that it selected the Rockwell Collins enhanced-vision system for Boeing Business Jet customers. The EVS will be available for new BBJs and as a retrofit, after expected certification in early 2008. Rockwell Collins is partnering with Max-Viz, provider of the EVS’ multi-wavelength infrared sensor, to certify the system on the BBJ.