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Synthetic Vision (SV) displays replace the pilot’s traditional 2D primary flight display (PFD) with a 3D perspective view display. The 3D SV perspective display is rendered from an onboard terrain database, e.g., one derived from the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) to create a virtual reality- like image. A comparison of a traditional 2D PFD with a 3D SV PFD is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. A traditional PFD is shown on the left-hand side of the above figure. On the right, an updated high resolution large format display with million+ colors provides the pilot with enhanced situation awareness of the topography and runway environment along with improved energy management cues.
The first OEM large aircraft SV display was certified on the Honeywell Primus Epic® system by Gulfstream in January 2008. The natural perspective colorized 3D terrain offers an unmatched safety enhancement in that it always presents the pilot with a clear and natural view out the window even in degraded visibility conditions such as at night or during operations in inclement weather.

In addition to the 3D perspective terrain, obstacles, and runway environment, some certified SV displays include advanced Head-Up Display (HUD) symbology, like the flight path vector, to improve control precision and energy management. An SV display, with enhanced symbology, permits any typically trained pilot to fly a more tightly coupled approach easily and routinely, capable of achieving an enhanced level of performance. However, despite the improved all-weather terrain and energy awareness, and enhanced pilot performance provided by some of the new SV displays, certification of the SV systems to date has afforded no operational credit to incentivize operators outside the business and general aviation community to equip with the new technology.

NextGen and SESAR

Under the FAA’s NextGen and European SESAR programs, the aviation authorities in the US and Europe are redesigning their airspace regulations, usage and rules to increase accessibility to airports and increase landing frequencies under any weather conditions. However the ability to provide a consistent level of accessibility and safety is not possible with the conventional airborne avionics and limitations of some airport infrastructures.

For GPS Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) operations, specifically wide area augmentation system (WAAS) guidance, monitoring is provided by an entire system for North America, and is limited to a time to alert (TTA) of false or misleading information to 6.2 seconds limiting the decision altitude (DA) of a CAT I standard operation to 200 ft. DA is the altitude at which a pilot must see outside visual references in order to continue the approach to landing. If the DA on an approach is lowered, and aircraft and crew are appropriately equipped, airport accessibility and landing frequency is increased.

There is a proposal for a new SV Guidance System (SVGS) that will enable aircraft to get lower than standard on the ILS and LPV approaches by solving the existing integrity and accuracy problems that are limiting operations. This SVGS system will change the performance of the airplane and it is believed that it will incentivize regional and air transport aircraft operators and OEMs to equip with SV technology.

SVGS — A New Generation Display and Guidance System

SVGS is a flight path vector (FPV) based SV PFD with additional pilot in the loop control display elements and system monitors that is intended to enable operations to lower than standard CAT I and LPV approach minimums at reduced infrastructure airfields (e.g., reduced lighting). SVGS is based upon previously certified Primus Epic® avionics architecture with a software update to an existing Primus Epic SmartView certified display.

Honeywell’s SVGS system is called SmartView Lower Minimums (SVLM). SVLM capabilities are based upon the design of the intuitive flight instrument elements that address previously complex training issues by pilot task reduction and increased pilot in the loop control in combination with a new airborne system monitoring for continuity of signal in space, CAT II level (or better) flight technical error, and new level of position assurance by nature of the flight display design elements.

HUD Symbology Concepts and Next Gen PFDs

Figure 2. The integration between the Honeywell SVLM with FPV and runway approach symbology created in 2011 (left) based on Honeywell HUD2020 (right) created in 1996 providing the same functionality is shown above. LEFT: This screen capture is of an SVLM prototype installed in the company’s Gulfstream 450. The approach shown was an ILS to runway 01 at Albany International Airport New York (KALB). RIGHT: This photograph was taken through the HUD combiner of the prototype HUD2020 installed in a Cessna Citation III. This approach was an ILS to runway 30C at Williams Gateway Airport, Phoenix Arizona (KIWA).
The symbology design on SVLM intentionally adopts that of a HUD, and takes advantage of a high resolution, large format, color display. The SVLM display is a PFD that incorporates flight instrument, flight guidance and a terrain based attitude indicator using data approved in accordance with FAA DO-200A standards (Figure 2, left).

The HUD-like advanced flight instrument design symbology elements on the SVLM display include an expanded pitch ladder, which is conformal with the outside view; conformal FPV; and, conformal runway and airport symbols.

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