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Gulfstream, Honeywell on verge synthetic vision surge

Gulfstream is performing an in-service trial with seven operators flying the company's new synthetic vision system, a joint development with Honeywell that received certification in late January. Once complete at the end of the quarter, Gulfstream hopes to have collected about 500h of operational data worldwide and will begin additional customer installations. The test is meant to expand the airframer's geographical experience with the system as certification testing took place only in the USA.

Available on the G350, G450, G500 and G550 business jets, the synthetic vision primary flight display (SV-PFD) is priced at approximately $300,000 and should take less than one day to install, says Gulfstream. Required aircraft modifications include a software upload to the Honeywell-based PlaneView avionics suite as well as a hardware change for the display controller and an upgraded modular avionics unit card for each of the two flat-panel primary flight displays on which the synthetic vision is displayed.

Sergio Cecutta, marketing manager for Honeywell's Advanced Vision Systems, says "all" original equipment manufacturers that fly Epic avionics systems are interested in the technology, for which Honeywell owns the intellectual property. The Integrated Primary Flight Display, Honeywell' trade name for the system, uses enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) data along with obstacle information and multiple flight performance overlays to present an intuitive picture of the aircraft's location and motion with respect to 30,000 runways, 100,000 obstacles and a 6 arcsec resolution terrain model. Using a compression ration of 2.5, the SV-PFD provides a 44 degree-wide picture in the horizontal plane and 33 degrees in the vertical plane with terrain drawn 65km (35nm) ahead of the aircraft.

Custom features on the Gulfstream system include multiple options for pitch reference and flight path markers to make it easy for pilots to transition between aircraft with and without synthetic vision. Proof of the SV-PFD's intuitiveness is that the FAA is not requiring any specific training for the system. Also customised in Gulfstream's synthetic vision is the obstacle database, which shows only objects higher than 300m (1,000ft) above the ground. Honeywell's database includes all obstacles above 60m (200ft).

Honeywell and Gulfstream demonstrated the SV-PFD to Flight International on 11 February on night flight from the Dulles International Airport into the mountainous terrain surrounding Roanoke, Virginia. The system's value quickly became apparent on a GPS approach into the Roanoke Regional Airport, situated between mountains and not readily visible to the naked eye. On the PFD, a dotted "bread crumb" line extending 28km out from the centreline of the runway and conforming with the terrain helped greatly with situational awareness.

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