Cockpit display manufacturer AvroTec and optical scanning specialist Microvision have begun a new phase of flight tests of a jointly developed, head-mounted multi-function display system for general aviation aircraft.

The system combines a display software package from AvroTec with Microvision's Nomad retinal scanning display (RSD) technology to present flight data (such as is typically projected onto a head up display) to the pilot. The Nomad RSD is mounted on the pilot's head and paints pixels of light directly onto the pilot's eye, creating a high visibility, transparent display that appears to be at infinity.

Initial results of the pioneering effort, funded by NASA through a small business initiative research programme as part of the AGATE (Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments) initiative, will be revealed at this month's Experimental Aircraft Association show. Early results, however, indicate the system "delivered easily readable data in daylight conditions against both and cockpit interior as well as the night sky. Tests also demonstrated that Nomad's RSD technology did not obstruct the pilot's field of view or prevent the performance of routine cockpit tasks," says the group.

The team says other potential benefits of the system "yet to be explored" include potential reductions of accidents due to controlled flight into terrain, runway incursions, loss of control due to indefinite horizon as well as ready access to weather graphics.

Source: Flight International