Sierra Flight Systems is hoping to achieve US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification by August 2001 of a three-dimensional, "highway-in-the-sky" electronic flight information system display for use in general aviation aircraft .


The advanced display, designed by a team led by a former Boeing F/A-18 pilot, features what the company claims to be the "world's only virtual reality flight display". It incorporates military-style flight path marker symbology, three-dimensional skyway navigation for waypoints and approaches and real-time terrain modelling from a digital database.

The primary flight display (PFD) generates images created by merging data from a solid-state attitude gyro, a coupled GPS and an air data computer. The system is already in limited service on several experimental aircraft, including Lancair IVPs, as the EFIS-1000 and -2000. FAA certification will allow its use as the EFIS II on production aircraft, and Sierra says no orders will be taken until negotiations are completed with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). These are believed to include a variety of companies ranging from Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures to Cessna, although the system is also being considered for installation in larger commercial aircraft including Boeing 737 "Classics", says the company.

The EFIS shows four different displays, three of which are software pages accessible by pushing a button on the primary screen which has a 160mm diagonal viewing area. The three screens include the PFD, a navigation display (ND) and an engine display (ED). A second monochromatic screen - the Engine/Air Data unit (EADU) - provides continuous information on engine rpm, manifold pressure, peak cylinder head and exhaust gas temperature, oil temperature/ pressure and fuel flow. The system also shows temperature trends for each cylinder parameter and stores logged data for up to 21 flights.

The certificated system will have two displays, the PFD and ND, as well as a multi-function display. Sierra says the engine display will be certificated on a make-of-model basis with OEMs. Follow-on customised projects will be undertaken for individual manufacturers, but not for use in retrofits.

Source: Flight International