While head-up display (HUD) technology is nowhere near widespread deployment in business jets and turboprops and light airplanes, an explosion of development is pushing HUDs forward, and it might not be long before you’re looking at flight data projected in your field of view while looking through the windshield.
Surprisingly, HUDs are being developed for even the smallest airplanes, for example, MyGoFlight’s SkyDisplay, which should sell for as little as $25,000. For even less, you can project flight data from your favorite tablet app onto the Epic Optix Eagle 1 HUD, a device that mounts on top of the glareshield and costs $1,799.
In the business jet arena, new developments promise to bring significant benefits for HUD flyers, from landings without any view of the outside world using natural vision to lower approach minimums and even wearable HUDs that can fit into airplanes too small for a traditional HUD.
In 2016 the FAA published new regulations that allow pilots to land and roll out in poor visibility solely by reference to the enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) image on the HUD, without ever seeing the runway environment or the ground with their natural vision. Avionics and aircraft manufacturers are already taking advantage of the new EVFS-to-land rules.
Collins Combined Vision
The former Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace) was the first HUD manufacturer to offer SVS imagery on a HUD, with the first certified installation on Bombardier’s Global 6000. Now Collins and Bombardier are stepping up to a combined vision system (CVS), which will enter into service on the new Global 5500 and 6500 when they begin delivery in 2020. The Collins CVS is an overlay of synthetic vision system (SVS) and enhanced vision system (EVS) imagery, where SVS and CVS images are shown on the HUD at the same time and occupying the same space. Collins and Bombardier will also seek certification to the new EVFS-to-land regulations. CVS will eventually be retrofittable to other Collins Pro Line Fusion-equipped aircraft.
With FalconEye, Dassault is the first aircraft manufacturer to implement a CVS, which is based on an Elbit HUD and multi-sensor camera system. FalconEye was certified in 2016, and Dassault is planning on making FalconEye compliant with the new EFVS-to-land rules, around the 2020 timeframe. Instead of overlaying CVS and EVS imagery, FalconEye gives the pilot leeway in how to display EVS and SVS imagery on the HUD, allowing both to be displayed at the same time but separated by a horizontal split line between EVS and SVS. The pilot can move the line up or down the HUD combiner depending on the particular outside environment, but the portion of the airport surrounding the runway, even if depicted in SVS, always is displayed inside an SVS runway clear zone or cutout. The bottom of the split is the range clear zone, in which SVS is not allowed to intrude, and this merges with the runway clear zone during the approach, so that the close-in terrain, the approach lights, and the portion of the airport surrounding the runway always shows up in EVS.
Elbit subsidiary Universal Avionics unveiled a new wearable head-up display (HUD) for business aircraft at last year’s NBAA show. It integrates Universal’s InSight display system avionics suite with Elbit Systems’s SkyLens wearable HUD. The integration of the two companies’ products allows the SkyLens wearable HUD to show flight management system (FMS) information superpositioned over a view of the outside world—in an augmented reality-type display—allowing for a better understanding of navigation data, the company said. It also provides a more intuitive user interface that allows users to “look, point, and click” with SkyLens, as well as to program the FMS while the pilot keeps looking outside the aircraft. SkyLens will display both EVS and SVS imagery, although not combined. Easily retrofittable to aircraft that can’t accommodate a traditional HUD, SkyLens will also meet the new EFVS-to-land rules.
Garmin GHD 2100
Garmin has joined the small group of avionics manufacturers that make HUDs, with its GHD 2100, selected for the G5000-equipped Citation Longitude. In addition to the normal flight and navigation symbology, Garmin’s HUD also displays SVS imagery. Although it hasn’t yet been selected by other OEMs or for retrofits, the GHD 2100 has a self-contained projection system that makes it easier to fit into light to super-midsize business jets.
Other unique features on the HUD include Garmin’s SurfaceWatch runway warning system and optional EVS imagery. Garmin also plans to offer a combined vision system with SVS and EVS imagery displayed simultaneously.
Gulfstream’s EFVS Landing System
Gulfstream was the first manufacturer of a HUD-equipped airplane to take advantage of the new EFVS-to-land rules; its G500 and the G600 are equipped with Gulfstream’s EVFS Landing System. Gulfstream will certify the system on other HUD-equipped Gulfstream models. With the required training and letter of authorization, the EFVS Landing system allows pilots to land and roll out from instrument approaches with as little as 1,000 feet RVR visibility, all while viewing the runway and its environment as enhanced vision system imagery on the HUD and never seeing photons reflecting off the runway onto their retina. The beauty of this system is that it requires no additional equipment on the ground and works on ordinary Category 1 instrument landing system-equipped runways.
At about one-tenth to one-twentieth the cost of a traditional HUD, MyGoFlight’s SkyDisplay offers a non-conformal HUD that can be installed in airplanes as small as light piston singles. The SkyDisplay HUD is permanently installed on the ceiling above the pilot’s seat and weighs less than two pounds. This includes the projector and combiner, plus an aircraft interface device mounted remotely to deliver ADAHRS data to the HUD graphics computer from the avionics. The SkyDisplay HUD is expected to retail for $25,000 (not including installation) for a Cirrus-type system and more for a HUD for a single-engine turboprop or larger.