My first civilian aviation story has been released… I have to say it was one of the more interesting things I’ve gotten to cover. Basically, Honeywell has launched a new version of its Apex Primus avionics suite for the Pilatus PC-12. This version has synthetic vision added… which makes life a lot easier for the pilot.
Now, as I’m sure most of you guys know, the PC-12 is flown by the US Air Force Special Operations Command under the designation U-28. The USAF aircraft are usually flying into small austere strips to drop-off special operations troops. Also, according to some accounts, they provide surveillance for special operations forces on the ground with their cameras and other intelligence-gathering apparatus.
Perhaps the USAF might potentially be interested in a version of this technology? Honeywell’s system uses a highly detailed terrain data-base to generate its imagery, which is probably not suitable for the military’s usage by itself (since it can’t take into account for something that might pop up– like a parked truck or other unknown variable). But if one combines that with millimeter-wave radar or the like, that might be something they could potentially use. Of course, that’s assuming they don’t already have something (which they very well might).
Meanwhile, the US Army is already looking at a number of solutions to the problem of degraded visual environments for its helicopters–millimeter wave radar, lasers, long-wave infrared, synthetic vision, or a combination thereof. That would solve the vexing problem of brownouts-which has plagued helicopter pilots since the beginning of rotary-wing aviation.