Rockwell Collins Highlights HUD Safety and Efficiency

 - May 12, 2012, 3:35 PM
Rockwell Collins’s HGS-3500 heads-up guidance system is designed to be installed in aircraft as small as owner-flown single-engine turboprops through midsize business jets, offering the advantages of HUD to those pilots.

Now that the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics system is certified and in service, pilots who enjoy the benefits of flying with a head-up display (HUD) gain a new feature on the HUD, synthetic vision. The first business jets with HUD synthetic-vision systems (SVS) are Bombardier’s Global 5000/6000. On these platforms, pilots can switch the HUD between three different views: normal HUD, SVS and enhanced-vision systems (EVS, provided by infrared camera systems). The SVS and EVS images also are available on the head-down displays mounted in the instrument panel.

While HUD with EVS can be used for certain low-visibility and descent-below-decision height credits during instrument approaches, further research is under way on new credits for both EVS and SVS. To that end, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is installing a Rockwell Collins head-up guidance system (HGS) capable of displaying EVS and SVS images in a Boeing 737 simulator at the FAA Flight Operations Simulation Laboratory in Oklahoma City.

The FAA will use the simulator to study the use of HUD with SVS and EVS “during different phases of flight in low-visibility conditions,” and once the agency decides how this technology can safely be used in flight operations, it will use the knowledge gained from the simulator studies to develop guidance materials.

“We’ll be working closely with the FAA to demonstrate how the addition of synthetic vision on the HGS can save even more time and money by keeping aircraft safely flying when the weather tries to interfere,” said Craig Olson, senior director, Head-up Guidance Systems for Rockwell Collins.

Rockwell Collins, which will exhibit next week in Geneva at EBACE 2012 (Stand 436), purchased HGS specialist Flight Dynamics in April 1999. The Portland, Oregon-based division has delivered more than 4,500 systems that have logged more than 45 million flight hours in revenue service. In a study of worldwide accidents that occurred from 1995 through 2007, the Flight Safety Foundation found that an HGS “would have likely or highly likely prevented the following percentage of accidents:

•38 percent of all the accidents/incidents;

•69 percent of takeoff and landing accidents;

•57 percent of loss-of-control accidents;

•3 percent of miscellaneous accidents;

•19 percent of propulsion accidents; and

•3 percent of undercarriage-related accidents.”

Flying with a HUD provides key safety benefits, according to Rockwell Collins. Examples include the ability of one pilot using the HUD to make performance callouts during the takeoff, which allows the other pilot (who is flying the airplane) to focus on the view outside. In one case, the flying pilot was able to observe and avoid running into a large piece of debris on the runway.

Other features include:

• advisory assistance for tail-strike avoidance during takeoff and landing,

• angle-of-attack exceedance prevention, rollout lateral guidance based on localizer data,

TCAS corrective action guidance,

• runway-remaining deceleration rate,

• windshear guidance and

• unusual attitude depiction and guidance.

All this while the pilot is looking outside, focusing on infinity while at the same time seeing a clear view of the HUD symbology.

The flight-path indicator of the HUD shows “an instantaneous indication of where the aircraft is going relative to the outside world,” according to Rockwell Collins. And the flight path indicator is not helpful just during takeoff and landing operations, it also shows pilots whether the flight path will allow the airplane to avoid weather, for example, if it is able to climb above clouds ahead of the airplane.

The HUD also improves flying of stabilized approaches and thus the landing outcome. In one study, pilots using HGS were able to improve touchdown performance, landing 95 percent of 51 touchdowns between 900 and 2,100 feet from the runway threshold and 99 percent of lateral touchdown positions within 30 feet of the centerline, according to Rockwell Collins. The pilots flying without HGS made six go-arounds and the remainder of the landings’ touchdown positions were widely scattered, some as far as 5,000 feet from the runway threshold.

Rockwell Collins is bringing the benefits of its HUDs to smaller aircraft, with the introduction of the HGS-3500 series HGS last year. Current Rockwell Collins HGS-6000 series HUDs are designed for larger business jets and airliners and consist of a bulky projector unit mounted on the cockpit ceiling that shines an image onto a combiner screen that folds down in front of the pilot.

The HGS-3500 weighs less and costs about one fifth as much as the HGS-6000 series units and combines the projector and combiner screen in a compact unit that mounts to the window sill.

Rockwell Collins expects the HGS-3500 to be installed in aircraft as small as owner-flown single-engine turboprops through midsize business jets, thus offering the advantages of HUD to a much larger audience when it is certified in 2014 or 2015.