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Boeing aims to improve safety with new display

Guy Norris/SEATTLE

Boeing is in the final stages of developing a new flightdeck display which it hopes will help prevent controlled flight into terrain and crashes during landing - the two leading causes of accidents.

The vertical situation display (VSD) is designed to "give the crew the same sort of intuitive view as the primary flight display [PFD] lateral display, but from the side," says Boeing safety technology development programme manager, Bob Myers.

The VSD occupies the lower portion of the PFD and provides a side elevation of the flight from approach to landing.

The VSD is designed to be linked to the conventional PFD format and uses the same altitude reference and longitudinal distance scales, as well as identical trend vectors, vertical speed indicators and way points.

"We've tried to make the displays as configurable as possible," says Myers, who says the VSD is expected to promote the increasing trend away from "step down" approach procedures to smoother and safer instrument landing system-like approaches.

Combined with terrain data from the now standard Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), the VSD is expected to increase situational awareness and improve crew reaction times. "A terrain awareness warning system can provide some warning, but the VSD will show continuous contours of the terrain ahead and the flightpath, and will help pilots plot corrective action".

The company says the long-sought concept has become possible because of the combined availability of EGPWS, advanced flight management systems, navigation displays and the global positioning system.

Boeing is developing the VSD "in part" with Honeywell, but stresses the programme will be open to Rockwell Collins. Myers also says Airbus is studying a VSD concept for its A3XX. Boeing has started "detailed integration" of the display into its 737 line.

It also plans to get a commitment to configure the VSD for all other production models by year-end and intends to offer it as a retrofit with a dedicated display for earlier aircraft.

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