Now You See It – Helicopter Synthetic & Combined Vision

February 4, 2015

Helicopter Synthetic & Combined Vision

Honeywell engineers are working on new technologies that promise to improve situational awareness and give helicopter pilots the capabilities they need to avoid terrain and obstacles in every phase of flight – including both coupled and uncoupled approaches, steep approaches, confined area operations, surface operations, and over-water flight.

Our Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS) and Combined Vision System (CVS) technologies are part of the SmartView™ product line being developed for helicopters with the pilot’s mission in mind. These are key technologies that will enhance safety and improve operational efficiency. Our engineering teams recognize the unique challenges faced by helicopter pilots in low level flight such as the need for enhanced obstacle and terrain awareness with a focus on stabilized flight path management.

The Honeywell SVS for helicopters provides pilots with a 3D perspective view of the surrounding terrain, obstacles and runways overlaid with advanced symbology. The computer-generated terrain imagery dramatically increases situational awareness and is rendered from Honeywell’s proven Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) data base. The advanced symbology significantly increases awareness of the surrounding environment during low level flight to reduce the likelihood of controlled flight into terrain, while reducing pilot workload.

First and foremost the SVS and CVS is a primary flight display with critical instrumentation to enable the pilot to maintain flight. The rotary-wing operating profile is complex, with large differences in the pitch and path of the aircraft, particularly in steep approaches. Crosswinds can cause significant differences in the heading and track. A helicopter typically operates with high roll rates and negative pitch attitudes. All of these conditions prove challenging to accurately display on a PFD depicting a pictorial representation of the real world outside the cockpit. Our engineers understand these unique operational needs that are a normal part of the helicopter operations. By using a path-centered approach, the information on the PFD is focused on the trajectory of the aircraft, promoting the pilot’s ability to maintain stable, controlled flight.

Our CVS represents a significant advancement in technology. The system merges real-time information from onboard infrared (IR) sensors with the synthetic scene, providing flight crews with an enhanced view of what is out of the helicopter windscreen – information particularly useful at night and during degraded visual conditions. Pilots flying helicopters equipped with SVS and CVS technologies will be able to detect and identify all kinds of obstacles including buildings, radio towers, windmills, ships and oil rigs in real time. The improved situational awareness from the visual cues of the CVS system gives pilots the confidence that what they’re seeing is an accurate depiction of obstacle and terrain conditions outside the aircraft, and enables them to complete the mission.

As part of our ongoing Honeywell User Experience (HUE) effort, we sought input from an extensive group of pilot users on our SVS/CVS capabilities during a series of flight evaluations and demonstrations. Many operations took place in the high traffic, obstacle-rich environment of the New York - New Jersey metropolitan area. Click here to read one reporter’s account.