Rockwell Collins is about a year away from the head-up display that will liberate business aviation by allowing approaches into local aerodromes all over the world, despite low cloudbase and limited visibility.
Satellite navigation guided approaches, combined with a head-up synthetic vision display, will allow pilots to "see" the runway and aerodrome obstacles through fog or haze, enabling clearance to a decision height of 100ft (30m).
The decision height credit that the company believes it can win - within 18 months - would halve the Category 1 limit for an instrument landing system approach, but the onboard combination of satellite navigation and the SVS HUD makes the aircraft independent of ground-based aids. Certification of the head-up guidance system (HGS) as part of Rockwell Collins' Pro Line Fusion avionics system on a Bombardier Global 5000 in the autumn will, initially, be for increased situational awareness only.
Rockwell Collins' director of marketing for head-up guidance systems John Wilson said the decision height credit breakthrough, when it comes, has the potential to transform his company's reliable but staid image by making it the first to take business aviation as close as it can get to being weather-proof at minor airfields.
Wilson said the only remaining hurdle to win US Federal Aviation Adminstration approval is terrain database validation, because that has to be peerless. Rockwell Collins expects to clear that hurdle by augmenting its HUD-based SVS imagery with sensor data from the weather radar.
It is the combination of SVS with the head-up display that wins the decision height credit. NASA trials have shown that the time taken for a pilot using a head-down display on approach to transfer to the head-up view through the windscreen and make a decision to proceed or not takes three and a half seconds. That delay equates to nearly 50ft of descent.