Synthetic-vision flight presentations are about to become a ubiquitous presence in dozens of business aircraft models thanks to certification programs that have been completed recently and additional test programs which are about to get under way.
Universal Avionics was the first avionics maker to certify synthetic vision in a transport-category business jet when it gained approval in the Challenger 601 for the terrain-based 3-D depiction of its Vision 1 system, which replaces a traditional ADI with a computer-generated view of terrain and airports. The presentation was revolutionary in that it brought a full-color, video-game-like visual scene to the cockpit displays for the first time.
Chelton Flight Systems gained the first-ever SVS certification, bringing the technology to its FlightLogic EFIS for lighter Part 23 airplanes. Its view is far more basic than that of the latest SVS technologies just now entering the market. Garmin, for example, recently gained approval for its synthetic-vision technology upgrade to the G1000 avionics system, a technology that includes moving traffic symbols on the primary flight display. Avidyne and L-3 Avionics are close behind with certification programs of their own. Each of these upgrades is targeted mainly at piston airplanes, although the Garmin system also flies aboard the Cessna Citation Mustang and the Socata TBM 850 turboprop and will be installed in Embraer’s Phenoms.
Gulfstream last January received FAA certification for its synthetic-vision primary flight display (SV-PFD) software upgrade in the PlaneView cockpit, making it the first OEM to gain such approval in a Part 25 production airplane. The optional SV-PFD upgrade is priced at about $300,000 in new airplanes rolling out of its Savannah, Ga. factory and offered for a similar price to operators of in-service models flying with the Honeywell avionics system.
In the final version of SV-PFD, 3-D hills, mountains, obstacles and water are displayed in sectional-chart-like colors using six-arc-second terrain data culled directly from the airplane’s enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). That means the visual scene for the entire planet is recreated in 600- by 600-foot boxes, with graphics-processing techniques used to smooth terrain contours for a natural-looking presentation. Beyond 12 nm the scene is presented using 12-arc-second squares (1,200 by 1,200 feet) and the graphics computer seamlessly stitches the boundary between the two areas. Avionics maker Honeywell claims SV-PFD represents the highest-fidelity synthetic visual scene available.
Gulfstream also said it will bring SV-PFD technology to its new G250 super-midsize jet, using the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics platform. Pro Line Fusion is slated to fly on a number of business jet models, including the Bombardier Global Express XRS and Cessna Citation Columbus. The cockpit eventually will fuse images from its SVS database with real-world imagery captured by an infrared enhanced-vision system camera for what is hoped to be an even more compelling view if the world ahead. The Fusion cockpit is expected to enter service in 2011.