BAE’s vision for Q-HUD is now coming to light

EBACE Convention News » 2009
May 10, 2009, 5:30 AM

BAE Systems is working on half a dozen prospective applications for Q-HUD, its new compact and lightweight head-up display that it launched last October for lighter business aircraft for which existing HUD systems might not be suitable. It expects the next level of commitment from one or more airframers could come within a few weeks and says that it is on track to complete certification of the product before the end of 2010.

Q-HUD uses holographic wave guide technology that actually injects the light image into the display glass, eliminating the need for a projection-lens configuration. It also makes use of optics pioneered on the company’s helmet-mounted Q-Sight displays developed for the military. By eliminating the more costly optics that are part of existing HUDs, BAE claims to have “significantly” reduced the price for Q-HUD, making it affordable for much smaller aircraft.

The design of the Q-HUD’s optics allows for a significantly larger field of pilot head movement while viewing the HUD. The system can also display synthetic-vision imagery and terrain data. BAE said that mainly by having fewer parts Q-HUD is more reliable than traditional systems, with a mean-time- between failure rate of 20,000 hours, compared with rates for existing systems of between 2,000 and 4,000 hours.

Ric Morrow, BAE’s director for commercial avionics business development, said that initial applications for Q-HUD will likely be for new-build aircraft, although there is certainly potential for retrofitting it. He indicated that the system probably is not viable for the current wave of very light jets, but that it might well be applicable to the next generation. “We see it as a product that will offer enhanced safety down the line,” he told EBACE Convention News.

BAE unveiled the system at the 2008 NBAA Convention in Orlando, Florida, and came away with nine nondisclosure agreements with aircraft makers. It is demonstrating the Q-HUD here in Geneva this week (Booth No. 190), along with an active-stick flight control system.

The condensed head-up display package is also much less obtrusive in the cockpit and generates a lot less heat, explained Paul Childs, BAE technology lead for the Q-HUD. The eye-motion box (the area in which the pilot can see the display) is significantly increased from the very restricted space of around six by three by two inches that usually applies for traditional HUD systems in which the images are projected onto a combiner. The system weighs just over 20 pounds, compared with more than 40 pounds for traditional HUD packages.

“Studies of around 600 incidents by the Flight Safety Foundation have shown that one third of accidents could have been prevented or at least positively influenced by a HUD,” said Childs. “In bad [visibility] conditions, pilots are trying to focus both outside the aircraft and on the displays below. By combining a HUD with an enhanced vision system we can give a real-world view in very bad visibility.”

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