The Synthetic Vision Systems General Aviation (SVS-GA) element of NASA's Aviation Safety Program is developing technology to eliminate low visibility induced General Aviation (GA) accidents through the application of synthetic vision techniques. SVS displays present computer generated 3-dimensional imagery of the surrounding terrain to greatly enhance pilot's situation awareness (SA), reducing or eliminating Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT), as well as Low-Visibility Loss of Control (LVLOC) accidents. In addition to substantial safety benefits, SVS displays have many potential operational benefits that can lead to flight in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) resembling those conducted in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). Potential benefits could include lower landing minimums, more approach options, reduced training time, etc. SVS conducted research will develop display concepts providing the pilot with an unobstructed view of the outside terrain, regardless of weather conditions and time of day. A critical component of SVS displays is the appropriate presentation of terrain to the pilot. The relationship between the realism of the terrain presentation and resulting enhancements of pilot SA and pilot performance has been largely undefined. Comprised of coordinated simulation and flight test efforts, the terrain portrayal for head-down displays (TP-HDD) test series examined the effects of two primary elements of terrain portrayal: variations of digital elevation model (DEM) resolution and terrain texturing. Variations in DEM resolution ranged from sparsely spaced (30 arc-sec/2,953ft) to very closely spaced data (1 arc-sec/98 ft). Variations in texture involved three primary methods: constant color, elevation-based generic, and photo-realistic, along with a secondary depth cue enhancer in the form of a fishnet grid overlay. The TP-HDD test series was designed to provide comprehensive data to enable design trades to optimize all SVS applications, as well as develop requirements and recommendations to facilitate the implementation and certification of SVS displays. The TP-HDD flight experiment utilized the NASA LaRC Cessna 206 Stationaire and evaluated eight terrain portrayal concepts in an effort to confirm and extend results from the previously conducted TP-HDD simulation experiment. A total of 15 evaluation pilots, of various qualifications, accumulated over 75 hours of dedicated research flight time at Newport News (PHF) and Roanoke (ROA), VA, airports from August through October, 2002. This report will present results from the portion of testing conducted at Roanoke, VA.
Air Transportation and Safety
22nd Digital Avionics Systems Conference; 12-16 Oct. 2003; Indianapolis, IN; United States