FlightBlogger Feature Part I of IV. All images are copyright of FlightBlogger unless otherwise specified.
On the evening of February 11, 2008, three of my colleagues from Flight and I were invited by Gulfstream and Honeywell to participate in an in-flight demonstration of the next generation in aviation situational awareness. The Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD), which is part of the Integrated Primary Flight Display (IPFD) from Honeywell, received FAA certification on Gulfstream jets just two weeks before.
The system, which provides a forward three-dimensional terrain model, is now available on the Gulfstream G350, G450, G500 and G550 business jets. If you happen to already own one of these four types of Gulfstream aircraft, an upgrade will run you about $300,000. The SV-PFD also joins the Enhanced Vision System, certified in 2001, which displays an infrared view ahead of the aircraft.
Before we get underway, it’s important to see the Gulfstream flight deck architecture as a whole.
The all-glass flight deck features four 14-inch liquid crystal displays as part of the Honeywell Primus Epic which runs the Gulfstream PlaneView system. The two outboard screens are the Primary Flight Displays (PFD) which show the attitude, airspeed, altitude, heading information, HSI/Glideslope and navigation information. The display can be split into a multi-pane mode to include flight control and brake status as well.
The Synthetic Vision System, which overlays heads up display symbology on top of the 3D terrain rendering, is certified by the FAA for operation on only one of the two Primary Flight Displays at a time to provide a traditional back up. The system provides a picture of terrain 35 nm ahead of the aircraft and a 44 degree-wide picture in the horizontal plane and 33 degrees in the vertical plane.
The inboard multi-function displays (MFD) show the Interactive Navigation Display (I-NAV), allowing the pilots to see the moving map, geographic information, terrain (2D), navigation aids, routes, and the flight plan in both Lateral Navigation (LNAV) and Vertical Navigation (VNAV) modes.
The display can also be configured to display aircraft checklists, and the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS), synoptic data from aircraft systems, as well as the infrared Enhanced Vision and external cameras in either full screen or displayed as a mosaic.
The display enables graphical flight planning and radio tuning with the Cursor Control Device (CCD), a joystick-like controller with a hat button, to move the cursor, trigger select button, and a thumb wheel to increase and decrease a selection. For example, if the pilots wanted to select a nearby waypoint, rather than entering it directly into the flight computer, they can use the CCD like a computer mouse and select the waypoint directly off of the map.
The I-NAV also displays uplink weather, weather radar images and Jeppesen electronic approach charts, which we’ll see in action later.
The system is entirely flexible, allowing pilots to customize the information on the two screens directly in front of them, as well as the next nearest inboard screen. The image to the left was taken at the 2008 Singapore Air Show. It is the Enhanced Vision view off the front of the nose. If you look closely, you can see the Airbus A380 in the distance.
Underneath the four main screens are electronic back up instruments. One displays altitude, attitude, airspeed, and heading data. The other is for navigation data for the VOR/ILS, ADF and flight management system information.
Farther down on the pedestal, the pilots have access to the aircraft throttle controls, as well as three multi-function control data units (MCDU) to interface with the flight management systems, navigation and aircraft performance functions. In addition, it controls the datalink communications and radio tuning. The screen is also able to display video from any source, including the enhanced vision system, cameras and cockpit displays.
Above the IPFD and MFD, are the mode control panel for autopilot commands and the display selector to customize the data displayed on the screens below.
In the left seat, the fold down heads up display (HUD) displays vital data for the captain and provides an overlay of the Enhanced Vision System. This allows the aircraft to be flown to an altitude of 100 feet before full visual acquisition of the landing runway.
The preceding overview should give a glimpse into the business end of the Gulfstream G450. The clarity and simplicity given to the pilot in flight is unprecedented. On this particular night, I had the opportunity to witness this newly certified system in action in the skies over Virginia.
Come along for the ride.
To be continued.