Flight-deck display software was designed and developed at NASA Langley Research Center to provide two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) terrain, obstacle, and flightpath perspectives on a single navigation display. The objective was to optimize the presentation of synthetic vision (SV) system technology that permits pilots to view multiple perspectives of flight-deck display symbology and 3D terrain information. Research was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the concept. The concept has numerous unique implementation features that would permit enhanced operational concepts and efficiencies in both current and future aircraft.

Dynamic 3D Exocentric Navigation Display: Examples show several available display modes selected by pilots that dynamically present an immersed moving 3D perspective of the aircraft in relation to terrain, flight path, and aviation hazards (represented here as static images).

One innovative feature, shown in the figure, was the ability of the flight crew to select among several modes that present a dynamic 3D perspective of aircraft within the flight environment. The study focus was to uncover the developments and benefits of using the 2D and 3D exocentric SV information with regard to primary flight displays (PFDs) and navigational displays (NDs) for reducing accidents and damage for commercial aircraft. The investigated technologies aim toward eliminating low visibility conditions as a causal factor in civil aircraft accidents, while replicating the operational benefits of clear-day flight operations, regardless of actual outside visibility conditions. The concepts also form the basis of revolutionary electronic flight bag applications that utilize these technological enhancements.

The results showed that SV on the PFD was pivotal for pilot use in terrain avoidance and situation awareness, while SV terrain on the 2D co-planar navigational display was not found to provide much benefit. However, pilots noted that the 3D exocentric display of synthetic terrain, with key implementation features, added significantly to flight-crew situation awareness and substantially enhanced the pilot's ability to detect and avoid controlled-flight-into-terrain situations.

Conclusions reached indicate that SV depicted on PFD is essential for terrain awareness. The situational awareness ratings for the SV PFD were largely due to the egocentric view that gave pilots an immersed sense of terrain around them. Pilot awareness and the capability for avoiding hazardous conditions were significantly enhanced with the addition of 3D exocentric navigation display modes that allowed for a greater field-of-regard to confirm the presence of hazards along their planned routing. The combination of SV primary flight and navigation display concepts allowed pilots to make the best and quickest decisions regarding safety of their aircraft.

This work was done by Lawrence J. Prinzel III, Lynda J. Kramer, J.J. Arthur III, and Randall E. Bailey of Langley Research Center and Jason L. Sweeters of NCI Information Systems, Inc. LAR-17354