Honeywell applies new concepts and software to helicopter safety
Integrating SVS/EVS with advanced EGPWS and TCAS technology will reduce midairs and CFIT accidents.
A 'sphere of detection' is viewed as a bubble surrounding the helicopter through which all threats are identified and processed.
The new Apex Edge series incorporates features and design advances taken from the air-transport-oriented Primus suites. The result is a breakthrough product line of elegant EFIS-based avionics.
Current offerings from the Apex Edge series include the KFD840 pilot flight display (PFD) for essential flight information, and the KSN770 multifunction display (MFD) for navigation, traffic, terrain and weather information."
Honeywell Apex suite
KFD840 is a compact, self-contained unit with internal air data and AHRS modules and an 8.4-inch (diagonal) screen. Attitude and HSI presentations show signs of their Primus lineage, being brightly colored, easy to read and with features such as single-cue flight director bars.
KSN770 is a 5.7-inch (diagonal) screen that makes use of line select keys found in flight management systems (FMSs) and a cursor control device (CCD) that interacts with a set of graphic subscreens for flight planning and navigation tasks.
The KSN770 includes dual VHF nav and comm functions, WAAS-capable GPS, full-color map display, Class B TAWS, TCAS and weather uplink. This Apex suite fits easily into a single-engine helicopter instrument panel.
Bendix King KFD840 is a fully self-contained PFD. Behind the 8.4-in screen are integral AHRS and air data modules.
Its features-TAWS, TCAS, pictorial navigation, and clear, concise attitude, heading and course information are considered an immediate practical solution to safety issues in the aeromedical community.
Honeywell is applying military technology to civilian helicopter operations to develop a next-generation rotorcraft product series. Based on a concept dubbed "the sphere of detection," the product line creates a bubble surrounding the helicopter through which all threats are identified and processed.
The threats consist of other aircraft, terrain, obstacles (wires, towers, buildings, trees) and weather obscuration. The sphere concept is unique to the helicopter operating environment.
Helicopters need to avoid not only weather hazards, terrain and other aircraft, but also obstacles strewn in their often uncharted arrival and departure paths-thus, the sphere concept addresses the requirement for a more sensitive and intrusive obstacle detection system.
The military has been working on this problem for some time, intent on helicopter pilots seeing and identifying all the hazards intruding into the terrain-following envelope only a few feet above the battlefield.
AgustaWestland A109 lifts off from a street in downtown Houston TX-an environment rich in potentially dangerous obstructions.
Early night-vision technology was adapted and developed into today's sophisticated night vision goggles (NVGs), and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors have been enhanced with small millimeter-wave radar to form enhanced vision systems (EVS).
EVS is an important asset for airplanes searching for runways in the dark and fog, but it's an essential safety and survival tool for helicopters. The challenge is to produce a product that is affordable for civilian helicopters.
Responding to that requirement, Honeywell is optimizing EVS sensor integration and data presentation for the close-in-obstacle world of helicopters, and designing system components that conform to FAR Part 23-based technical standards.
Blending EVS and SVS
The next step will be to blend the terrain picture from the EGPWS database-or synthetic vision system (SVS)-with EVS so that helicopter pilots will see a complete, detailed color presentation of hills and valleys as well as a real-world picture of all the obstacles surrounding an offsite landing zone.
The GA version of the "next-generation" sphere of detection concept product series-the integrated hazard avoidance system (IHAS)-will be mechanized in the KMD550/850.
This system integrates input from the primary intruders into the sphere-traffic, terrain, obstacles and weather-and superimposes that picture on a GPS/EGPWS-driven positional display.
Distributed processing architecture blends the various external inputs into a coherent picture, prioritizing the hazards graphically. IHAS can accept input from a wide variety of traffic, terrain and weather systems, depending on the customer's particular mission and cost requirements.
For larger helicopters Honeywell is developing the integrated pilot flight display (IPFD)-a Primus-based unit that integrates SVS into a 3D EGPWS terrain picture, then superimposes a head-up display (HUD) model of attitude and performance cues onto the flightpath.
An HSI display at the bottom completes the situational picture for a large all-in-one window into the sphere of detection. The final piece will be EVS via small millimeter-wave radar to identify and depict the actual obstacles in the landing zone.
Honeywell's considerable commitment to improving helicopter pilots' situational awareness will be an important part of the ongoing discussions on reducing accidents. As Honeywell brings solutions to the table, the EMS managers tasked with solving the accident problem will no doubt examine them with great interest.
Woody McClendon flies jets and helicopters and has contributed to Professional Pilot for many years.
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