Overcoming Challenging Aviation Conditions with Synthetic Vision Systems
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Synthetic vision systems are helping pilots land and take off in degraded visual conditions. No longer do snow whiteout conditions or dense clouds of dust need to keep aircraft from getting airborne. Regardless of weather conditions or time of day, missions can be flown, and transit flights can take off or land.
What Are Synthetic Vision Systems?
Synthetic vision systems (SVS) combine 3D data into displays that provide flight crews with situational awareness information. Improved situational awareness reduces pilot workload during complex situations and operationally demanding phases of flight. SVS merges a high-resolution display with terrain and obstacle data, aeronautical information, aircraft data feeds, and GPS information.
SVS also shows a model of the real world. The flight crew is able to easily understand and rapidly assimilate the data. The synthetic vision system display replaces the conventional sky and ground depiction to include a 3D model with details of the terrain, obstacles, weather, approach path, runway, maneuvering areas, and flight traffic.
Synthetic vision is especially useful during approach and landing. In order to operate, a flight crew is required to have SVS operation training, as pilots must be aware of how to detect incorrect or corrupted data. Fortunately, an SVS has strict validation criteria to ensure that the data displayed on the SVS is accurate.
How Is Synthetic Vision Being Leveraged for Helicopter Use?
Landing a helicopter in dust or snow can be especially difficult, as pilots can easily become disoriented near the ground as they lose view of the horizon. As a result, pilots may roll the aircraft when close to the ground, which puts the helicopter at the risk of its rotors making contact with the ground or other objects.
A multitude of sensors collects necessary data. Millimeter-wave radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and infrared cameras are used. Thanks to all this input, pilots have their situational awareness restored even in the most extremely degraded visual environments.
One system uses a 3D image rendering pulsed radar, GPS, inertial sensors and cockpit displays to help pilots “see” geographic features outside the aircraft during brownouts and whiteouts. Color representations on the displays help the pilot control roll, pitch, and yaw based on radar-generated representations of the ground and other geographic features.
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