FLIGHTDECK TECHNOLOGY

Rockwell Collins HGS

Smaller components lead to wider applications, enhanced capabilities.


Reliable technology

Bombardier Learjet 85 will offer HGS integrated with standard Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion flightdeck. The company says market opportunities for HGS are strong within the midsize corporate aircraft market.

There are still first-generation HGS1000 systems in use, mostly on UPS Boeing 727s, and most of the original HGS2000 are still in service aboard Boeing 737s, CRJ100/ 200s, CL604s, DHC8-Q200/300s and Dassault Falcon 900EX/2000s.

CRT-based HGS3000s are still being produced for the C130. Rockwell Collins HUDs, particularly the new digital LED based series, require virtually no maintenance (there's a 5000-hr desiccator package change) and carry 5-year warranties with no hour limitations.

"Digital LCD-based HUD technology is the future," says Wilson. "Our new LED backlighting should outlive the life of the airframe and it provides the brightness to project very realistic EFVS and SVS during any day/night conditions.

Everything we're doing today is EFVS and SVS capable." Rockwell Collins HGS product support team is led by Dir Product Support Mike Packard in Portland OR. Initial pilot training on this intuitive HUD technology is typically 1-2 days.

EFVS capabilities on HUD were introduced by Rockwell Collins almost 2 years ago and are retrofittable capability on HGS 4000/ 5000-series systems.

Future opportunities

Rockwell Collins envisions substantial markets in taking HUD downstream to midsize and smaller corporate jets although technical challenges, in effectively shrinking this technology, continue to exist.

Original HGS1000 systems required 6 LRUs and provided 2.4 inches of head clearance. Today's HGS6000 is down to 3 LRUs, and 43 lbs system weight, while providing 6-7 inches head clearance and a much less obtrusive combiner lens. Boeing 787 HGS requires just 2 LRUs, at 29 lbs, as the system runs from a common onboard processor.

Operators with Pro Line Fusion will enjoy a similar 2 LRU setup as HGS takes advantage of onboard Fusion processing capability. New midsize aircraft HUD offerings will provide full digital, SVS and EFVS capability but support more restricted fields of vision so that smaller projector units can be fitted into confined flightdeck real estate.

G150 HGS6000 will differ from G550 HUD in that field of vision will be 30 degrees horizontal by 24 degrees vertical as opposed to 42 degrees horizontal and 30 degrees vertical. Likewise, HGS6000 for the Bombardier Learjet 85 will offer a more limited field of vision than Global Express systems.

Shrinking HUD technology to more confined light jet and VLJ flightdecks will require radically new solutions. "If you go down market there are size and cost challenges to address," says Wood.

"We've got to find a way for the system to fit into smaller flightdecks while maintaining adequate field of vision, system capability and reasonable cost to the operator." HUD originally cost in the neighborhood of $500,000 to install but HUD list prices are typically in the $300,000 range today.

A price point of $50,000 may be needed to successfully penetrate VLJ and other light aircraft markets. Flight Dynamics built and tested a low-cost automotive HUD system in the early 1980s which projected data directly onto the car windshield.

While this approach may not be practical in the corporate world there are other options to consider says Austin. "We're working on multiple optical and technological solutions to adapt HUD to smaller flightdecks while maintaining reasonable field of vision and capability," he says.

"One possibility may be to project HUD imagery directly to a pilot worn visor. We have the technology to do this today but it requires ability to track, and conform to, movement of the pilot's head."

Pro Pilot was denied access to the Rockwell Collins "Skunkworks" down the hallway from the display of the futuristic early-1980s automobile HUD system. "Come back and visit us a year from now," says Wood. "We're looking at promising technologies."

Today's digital-based video-capable HUD technology offers more capability than OEMs elect to tap into says Austin. "It's a balancing act in deciding what information and graphical content to display.

The objective is to provide meaningful economic and safety benefits of value to the end user. Just because you can put something on a HUD doesn't mean you should. You can put cartoons up there if you want to.

We have windshear indications but not graphical weather, and we support SGS, but we're always looking to balance EFVS and SVS content without obstructing real world vision."

Looking to the future, Rockwell Collins is busy hiring engineers and production workers and envisions HUD becoming much more commonplace in flightdecks.

"We're talking with OEMs on system architecture with HUDs as PFDs," says Austin, "but this is all part of an overall systems equation OEMs need to drive."

Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.

 

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