Head-up guidance moves to smaller aircraft

EBACE Convention News » 2011
May 15, 2011, 9:30 PM

New technology is finally enabling avionics manufacturers to make head-up display (HUD) systems smaller, and Rockwell Collins is first out of the gate with the new HGS-3500. While it wasn’t able to bring a working model of the device to Geneva, the company is displaying a mockup at EBACE (Stand 7036) to show the unit’s stowable capability.

The new Rockwell Collins HGS-3500 head-up guidance system is targeting light to midsize business aircraft ranging from single-engine turboprops to midsize jets. At roughly one fifth the installed cost of a typical long-range jet’s HUD, the HGS-3500 promises to bring the safety benefits of HUD technology into many more cockpits. The new HUD is designed to fit cockpits equipped with the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. No announcements have been made as to which aircraft will be first to feature the HGS-3500, but the company is in discussions with several aircraft manufacturers, according to Adam Evanschwartz, the U.S. group’s principal marketing manager.

The benefits of a HGS, which only larger aircraft have been able to offer so far, Evanschwartz said, “are that the eyes-forward flight path [makes it] easier and safer to manage energy, not only on approach and landing, but in all sorts of situations.” A 2009 Flight Safety Foundation study showed that HGS technology could have helped prevent 38 percent of accidents that occurred over a 12-year period. According to Rockwell Collins, “The study also came to the conclusion that a staggering 69 percent of landing and takeoff accidents and 57 percent of loss of control could have been avoided if the pilot had access to the information available on a HGS.”

Fits in Single 12-Pound Unit

The breakthrough made by Rockwell Collins engineers was to fit the HGS-3500 into one 12-pound unit that mounts in front of the pilot. Larger Rockwell Collins HGSs consist of heavier systems with a projector mounted behind the pilot to play the image on a combiner screen in the pilot’s view. The HGS-3500 is comprised of an active matrix LCD with LED backlights. It feeds the image into the top of the HUD glass, which then spreads it out so it fills the entire image space. Like larger HGSs, it meets head-injury criteria standards that protect pilots in case of an accident.

While the HGS-3500 offers a slightly smaller field of view, lower luminance and lower resolution than larger Rockwell Collins HGSs, the result for the pilot is functionally the same, Evanschwartz explained. All the symbols on the device will look the same as they do on larger HGS in terms of size, resolution and placement to pilots.

The HGS-3500 will display the Fusion’s synthetic-vision system (SVS) view as well as infrared enhanced vision (EVS). A yoke switch will allow pilots to select between the normal, SVS and (if an infrared sensor is installed) EVS views.

Rockwell Collins plans to fly the HGS-3500 on its Challenger 601 next year, and certification of the new system should take place in 2014 or 2015. The company hopes to gain U.S. FAA approval for lower approach minimums using synthetic vision on the HGS.

Pro Line Upgrades

The manufacturer also announced recently that it is adding capabilities to business jets equipped with older versions of its Pro Line avionics. In addition, it recently received new certifications for the Dassault Falcon 50/50EX and Hawker Beechcraft’s Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP.

The company’s recently granted FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for the Falcon 50EX equipped with CRT-based Pro Line 4 avionics covers the upgrade to a Pro Line 21 system with 10- by eight-inch LCDs. The benefits of the LCDs include the ability to display features of the Rockwell Collins Integrated Flight Information System (IFIS). The Pro Line 21 upgrade also includes an FMS upgrade with wide-area- augmentation system localizer performance with vertical guidance (WAAS LPV) GPS approaches. The system is upgradeable to add ADS-B and datalink capabilities in the future.

IFIS delivers high-resolution electronic charts to cockpit displays, according to Rockwell Collins, as well as XM graphical weather products like Nexrad, lightning data, satellite images, winds aloft and enhanced navigation maps. The company plans next to add a Pro Line 4 to 21 STC for the Falcon 2000/2000EX.

For the Falcon 50 equipped with Pro Line 21 avionics and Beechjet 400A and Hawker 400XP jets with Pro Line 4 systems, Rockwell Collins is offering an STC to add Waas LPV satellite-based augmentation system approach capability. It now holds 22 STCs for Waas LPV systems.

The Rockwell Collins GPS-4000S receiver is approved under an STC for aircraft equipped with Pro Line 4 and 21 systems, making the GPS upgrade complementary to the LPV upgrades. The GPS-4000S is qualified for primary means of navigation, eliminating the check for receiver autonomous integrity monitoring. Another benefit of the GPS-4000S is compatibility with other countries’ satellite-based augmentation system networks, such as Europe’s Egnos and Msas in Japan.

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