May 15, 2003 NASA engineers are testing a revolutionary navigational display in NASA's airborne flight simulator that may lead to safer skies and greater airport capacity.
Engineers from the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., the U.S. Army and the Boeing Helicopter Division, Philadelphia, Penn., will conduct flight tests of the Perspective Flight Guidance (PFG) system May 12 to May 16, 2003, in a modified UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The system displays a virtual pathway to guide pilots to their destinations.
“Capacity at the nation's busiest airports could be enhanced by using aircraft capable of operating from shorter runways,” said NASA Ames' William Hindson, the project's principal investigator. “Development of new cockpit displays like the Perspective Flight Guidance display may help enable pilots to precisely and safely fly into and out of airports without affecting the primary traffic flow or increasing noise to the surrounding community," he said. According to Hindson, the concept is relevant for airports like San Francisco International, which are located in highly populated urban areas and frequently are affected by poor weather conditions.
Unlike conventional navigational displays, the PFG system presents a perspective view of the next 60 seconds of the aircraft's ideal path. Based on flight plan inputs, four segmented lines create a three-dimensional pathway with bank and turn cues that the pilot can easily follow. The software also is able to anticipate where the aircraft will be in 4.5 seconds, based on the pilot's input, and it will alert the pilot if actions will result in an 'off pathway' trajectory.
The Perspective Flight Guidance system was originally developed for the steep-angle landing approaches and departures of short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft, tiltrotors and helicopters. The display also has military applications, such as large-scale deployments that require the safe operation of a high-density mix of conventional aircraft and helicopters at night and in poor weather conditions.
The Army and NASA UH-60 Back Hawk helicopter is modified to be a highly flexible airborne research platform for evaluating a wide range of cockpit display and flight control technologies developed by NASA, the military and industry partners. These flight tests will validate ground-based simulations, and may improve design cycle timelines and reduce development cost.
For related images visit: http:// amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2003/03images/pfg/pfg.html
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