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FAA sets bar for head-up synthetic vision system

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a series of special conditions that Bombardier and avionics provider Rockwell Collins must meet to certificate head-up synthetic vision for the Global Vision cockpit.

Global Vision, which incorporates Rockwell Collins' Fusion integrated avionics system in place of the legacy Honeywell flightdeck, is to be available on the Bombardier Global Express XRS and Global 5000 business jets for first deliveries of the upgraded models in 2012. A key marketing point for Fusion is the ability to have synthetic vision on the aircraft's Rockwell Collins HGS-6000 head-up display, an enhancement that itself could allow for lower landing minimums in the near future.

The FAA's concern is that the outside view not be obscured by the computed synthetic view of the same environment. Similar special conditions were created for enhanced vision systems, which show a conformal view forward as captured by an infrared camera.

"Although the pilot readily may be able to see around and through small, individual, stroke-written symbols on the HUD, the pilot may not be able to see around or through the image that fills the display without some interference or the outside view," said the FAA in the 31 May notice. "Nevertheless, the [synthetic vision system] may be capable of meeting the required level of safety when considering the combined view of the image and the outside scene visible to the pilot through the image."

In addition to proving that synthetic vision will not degrade flight safety or interfere with outside visual references, the special conditions require Bombardier to have a control that lets the pilot "immediately deactivate and reactivate" the synthetic vision display on demand without having to remove his or her hands from the yoke or throttles. Rockwell Collins has designed the system with a yoke-mounted switch that toggles between traditional HUD symbology, enhanced vision system or synthetic vision.

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