By Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside
August 2, 2013 - Controlled flight into terrain - or CFIT - is one of those accident types that never should happen but too often does. Preventing CFIT accidents has long been an FAA goal, and avionics manufacturers are incorporating terrain avoidance databases as a feature of advanced moving map displays.
A logical extension of that technology is a synthetic vision system, SVS, which can depict terrain rendered from its data - but can't "see" what's not in the data - even in zero visibility or at night. At EAA Oshkosh 2013, SVS is available in a variety of avionics products, from high-end business turbines to add-on features for various in-cockpit and tablet applications.
Aspen Avionics' Evolution Synthetic Vision (ESV) is an option to the Evolution Flight Display System. Aspen says ESV presents a "real-time, computer-generated 3-D view of terrain, obstacles, and traffic." As with other implementations, Aspen's SVS "simulates the view from the cockpit on a bright day" to enhance situational awareness.
An Aspen Avionics dealer can easily upgrade existing Evolution Flight Display installations with the necessary software. Pricing for the PFD is $2,995; each MFD is $795.
Garmin's SVS technology, dubbed "SVT," first was announced in 2008 for the G1000 glass-panel suite and expanded to other platforms, including the G5000, G3000, G500, and G600.
Like other SVS implementations, Garmin's SVT can present familiar TCAS/TAS/TIS symbology that grows larger as traffic gets closer. The SVT also depicts a "pathway in the sky" virtual 3-D "tunnel for en route navigation and instrument procedures." Garmin's SVT also depicts airport layouts and runway threshold numbering, and identifies nearby airports on-screen. Pricing varies with the options selected.
WingX Pro7 is Hilton Software's in-cockpit app for the iPad. The company's SVS implementation allows pilots to look around any airport in all directions and at all altitudes and "visualize a preferred route of arrival or departure for the airport," according to the company. Using WingX Pro7, pilots can display the SVS feature either full-screen or with other charts in a split-screen view.
Dr. Hilton Goldstein, Hilton Software's founder, said, "This latest solution reduces the avionics cost to the homebuilt and experimental markets and provides an inexpensive backup and cross-reference display for all pilots." Hilton's SVS implementation within WingX Pro7 requires a $99 annual subscription.
Rockwell Collins is at AirVenture 2013 in a big way, and its Pro Line 21 avionics suite is proving very popular among business jet and turboprop operators. The company says its SVS implementation generates "a virtual landscape image" on the pilot's primary flight display (PFD) and "works consistently across diverse atmospheric moisture conditions. It predictably provides a bright, crisp picture, allowing flight crews to operate with improved situational awareness and safety."
The technology also is available on Pro Line 21 multi-function displays. Rockwell Collins says its SVS upgrade comes on a 28-day update cycle and reduces cockpit workload. Baked into the package is upgradeable software, integration of which requires minimal training.