[Homestead] No more flying blind in an airplane
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Fri Oct 1 18:44:40 EDT 2004
But I would feel a lot safer if there were backup flight instruments,
and pilots proficient in usig them--electronics are not fail-safe.
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Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
(Office: 757/864-9886/Cellular: 757/344-8511)
September 30, 2004
*NASA TECHNOLOGY MEANS NO MORE FLYING BLIND*
Imagine a world where pilots see clear skies all the time. It's not some
weather fantasyland, but a revolutionary cockpit display technology
called Synthetic Vision. NASA is developing it to make flying safer.
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NASA aeronautics researchers at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.,
tested this Synthetic Vision Systems technology on a Gulfstream GV
business jet this summer in the skies over Reno, Nevada and over the
NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.
The system gives a pilot a clear electronic 3-dimensional perspective of
what's outside, no matter what the weather or time of day. It combines
Global Positioning System satellite signals with an on-board
photo-realistic database to paint a picture of terrain for the crew.
During the flight tests, NASA evaluated an integrated version of the
technology. It included a birds' eye view of topography, a
voice-recognition system, advanced sensors and Database Integrity
Monitoring Equipment that insures accuracy by using sensors to compare
the real world to the pictures being generated. Added to this was a
Runway Incursion Prevention System, which includes an airport moving map
and software that predicts possible encroaching runway traffic and
alerts the crew.
NASA will use the results of the flight test to advance the development
of technology to help reduce the fatal aircraft accident rate under its
NASA Aviation Safety and Security Program. Synthetic Vision Systems
could help eliminate the world's deadliest aviation accidents, called
Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT). A CFIT accident is where a
normally functioning aircraft slams into the ground, water or an
obstacle, either because the pilot wasn't aware the plane was headed in
the wrong direction, or due to bad weather or a combination of factors.
"NASA has already tested the individual technologies of Synthetic Vision
and Runway Incursion Prevention Systems on board a NASA 757 aircraft,"
said Randy Bailey, Synthetic Vision principle investigator. "We were
excited to see it fly as an integrated system on the Gulfstream. We were
particularly excited to be partnered with Gulfstream which has been an
industry innovator in aviation technology."
Other flight test partners include the U.S. Air Force Research
Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB; Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, Iowa;
Jeppesen, Englewood, Colo.; Rannoch Corp., Alexandria, Va.; The Boeing
Company, Huntington Beach, Calif.; RTI International, Research Triangle
Park, N.C.; and Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.
Seventeen pilots selected from the Federal Aviation Administration, the
Air Force, the Joint Aviation Authority, the aerospace industry and
major airlines flew the GV over 67 hours in 22 flights to collect data.
A Gulfstream pilot was pilot-in-command.
During the flight evaluations, the test pilots' windshield was often
intentionally covered or flights were conducted at night. The process
simulated low visibility conditions, so the pilot would have to rely on
the computer-generated information on the displays. The information was
shown on head-down displays mounted into the plane's instrument panel as
well as a head-up display that superimposes terrain and guidance
information onto a screen located in front of the pilot's eyes.
A number of airline pilots have already flown components of the
Synthetic Vision System in simulators and a NASA 757 research jet. "I
think it's awesome." said United Airlines 767 Captain Rick Shay of the
technology. "To explain the difference in the situational awareness that
you gain, it's just a complete leap from the technology that's there today."
The NASA Aviation Safety and Security Program is part of NASA's
Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. It is also a partnership with
the Federal Aviation Administration, aircraft manufacturers, airlines
and the Department of Homeland Security. The program's goal is to reduce
the fatal aircraft accident rate and protect air travelers and the
public from security threats.
For more on the NASA Aviation Safety and Security Program on the Web
For more information about the programs of NASA's Aeronautics Research
Mission Directorate, visit
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