NASA has completed flight tests of a synthetic-vision landing system planned for the next-generation supersonic transport (SST). Landings were conducted using video and infra-red (IR) sensor images for guidance. Pilot feedback from the tests is "very encouraging", says Mike Lewis, manager of flightdeck systems for NASA's High-Speed Research (HSR) programme.

Two aircraft were used for the tests: NASA's Boeing 737 Transport Systems Research Vehicle (TSRV) and Westinghouse's BAC One-Eleven test-bed. Both were used in taxi and flight tests to gather data on the ability of video, IR and radar sensors to detect vehicles and aircraft. The 737, was then used to perform, piloted synthetic-vision approaches.

Three different IR sensors, two video cameras and two X-band radars were evaluated, says Lewis. The TSRV was equipped with two IR sensors, operating in different wavebands, a video camera, a radar and a digital-database system capable of generating a three-dimensional ground scene similar to a simulator visual system, he says.

A differential global-positioning-system ground station was used to provide precision guidance for all approaches, which were manually flown to touchdown in clear day and night conditions. The synthetic-vision system is being developed to avoid the need for a Concorde-style drooped nose on the next-generation SST. An associated two-crew guidance-control system will be tested in Calspan's Total In-Flight Simulator (TIFS) aircraft later this year, Lewis says. An integrated synthetic-vision and guidance-control system will be tested in the TIFS' nose-mounted research cockpit before the end of the HSR programme in 2001.

Source: Flight International