Best equipped best served—new regs and flightdeck technology for NextGen

RNP SAAAR, operational credits for EFVS with HUDs bring real value for corporate aviation.


FAA Research Pilot Larry Eversmeyer flies a Boeing 737-800 with HUD and EFVS—one of many R&D tools used by the Flight Operations Simulator Branch in Oklahoma City. This FAA branch is helping to pioneer the NextGen airspace in HUD/EFVS, ADS-B/in and out, EFBs with own-ship for runway incursion research and other flightdeck technologies.

Equivalent visual operations are rooted in FAA’s Flight Technologies and Procedures Division. AFS 400 today is headed up by Les Smith, known in the industry for getting the first EFVS rule developed.

The story goes that Smith, newly recruited from the airlines to FAA at Sabatini’s behest, was given the assignment of changing the rules to allow the use of EFVS. Not knowing that these ancient documents were to remain unchanged, Smith went about the various factions of the old institution, and with wit and charm got the rule changed (FAR 91.175 Takeoff and Landings for Instrument Approaches).

The Autoland Society had a cow, and the new vision technology proceeded to become standard on most of the Gulfstream fleet and on many Bombardier models. So in 2001 the first EFVS was certified, and in 2004 operational credit was given for using a certified EFVS to enable a pilot to see on a HUD what he could not with the naked eye.

CMC Electronics CMA2600 EFVS on approach during a pitch black night. With EFVS, the pilot sees the runway, lights and VASI, as well as the touchdown zone landing area and terrain. CMC systems are currently certified or in EFVS development for Bombardier’s Global Express XSR, Global 5000 and Challenger 605, and on Dassault’s EASy cockpits for the Falcon 2000 and 900. Certification on the Dassault Falcon 7X and Boeing BBJ are expected this year.

Most important is the combination of a HUD and EFVS sensor under FAR 91.175, which permits the use of EFVS to continue from standard minimums to 100 ft, where transition to external visual cues is required. Transition for EFVS to visual cues is not a hard thing to do. Looking through the HUD is required, and this type of display is unique in aviation. HUDs are transparent and yet can display the EFVS sensor image.

The dominant EFVS sensor suppliers are CMC Electronics Esterline and Kollsman–Elbit Systems of America. Both companies offer cooled infrared-based camera technology that has been approved by the FAA, Transport Canada and in Europe. EFVS has also been certified now in Gulfstream, Bombardier and FedEx MD10/11 aircraft.

EFVS ops planned for zero/zero

On Dec 24, 2009 FAA granted FedEx an operational exemption to FAR 121.651—the air carrier version of FAR 91.175—permitting an EFVS equipped FedEx aircraft to begin the approach in weather as low as 1000 ft RVR or 1/4 mile if there is no transmissometer.

Operationally, this is a major new advantage, allowing the crew to skip the endless early morning hold and start down, and then at published minimums continue the approach provided EFVS “sees” the light structures, runway etc.

FedEx is now on the way to completing system installations and certification of several other transport category aircraft, with the goal of its entire fleet operating by 2015. NetJets has also applied for a similar exemption for its fleet of EFVS aircraft and will have the same operational credit. For EFVS operators, that’s big news, and it only gets better.

FAA, European regulators and industry are moving rapidly to landing with EFVS, and has a stated program goal of setting the minimum system standard for EFVS operations in zero/zero visibility by 2011.

The first step in that process—landing with EFVS in 1000 ft RVR (or 1/4 mile reported)—is nearly complete, and may be published by this summer by RTCA Special Committee 213 and EUROCAE Work Group 79.

Best equipped best served

FAA HQ Flight Technologies and Procedures Division Mgr Les Smith at the controls of an EFVS-equipped MD11. Smith is known in the industry as a leader in development of flight operations of new technologies.

There is a host of new technologies relevant to corporate flight departments coming with FAA incentives, including digital datalink operations, trajectory-based operations and more. Don’t let the phrase “special aircraft and aircrew authorization required” put you off from getting this capability.

In fact, the SAAAR acronym is being replaced by “authorization required,” which is a better description, and the commercial help is available at reasonable prices.

In addition to approach and landing credits, FAA and industry are beginning to explore EFVS for credit for surface movement guidance and reduced takeoff minimums.

Many of these technologies are going to appear in 2011 as certified in newer OEM flightdecks. The advantages of the new vision technology along with the SVS additions in taxi navigation are safety and efficiency. And those without the new equipment may be circling the airport while the boss in the back stares impatiently at a watch through sunglasses.

Glenn Connor is the president of Discover Technology Intl and is a researcher and pilot specializing in the development of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.



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