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Mon, Apr 14, 2003

Chelton Earns First TSO For Synthetic Vision/H.I.T.S. Technology

The FAA has granted Chelton Flight Systems a TSO for its synthetic vision Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS). This marks the first time FAA has approved the long-touted Highway-In-The-Sky (HITS) technology which significantly reduces pilot workload while substantially increasing situational awareness in VFR and especially IMC flight environments. Though a number of companies have been working on General Aviation EFIS, Chelton's Flight Logic System is the only one that incorporates synthetic vision, a flight path marker, and HITS providing a 3-D series of boxes along the flight path from takeoff to touchdown. Selected for the FAA's Capstone program, the certification of this technology was a groundbreaking partnership between industry and a progressive FAA.

"People have been telling us for years that the FAA would never approve this technology," said company president Gordon Pratt. "In reality, we could hae never accomplished this without them. Our experience with both our Certification Office and the Directorate has been extremely positive." The primary flight display in Chelton's EFIS combines pitot-static information from an airdata computer, attitude and heading data from a solid state three-axis gyro, and position input from a GPS WAAS receiver (included with the system). All of these components have received TSO approval.

This equipment generates a state of the art display that test pilots have called "virtual VFR" because what is shown on the screen is the same terrain the pilot sees (or cannot see) out the window. Three-dimensional terrain modeling, airspeed, groundspeed, altitude MSL, altitude AGL, vertical speed, enhanced low-speed awareness, heading, decision height, actual winds aloft, crosswind component, OAT, and timers are constantly updated in the display while airborne. Other essential information appears as "pop ups" when any unusual flight situations begin to develop. If conditions are normal, the screen declutters, providing only the essential information for keeping track of aircraft performance and navigation.

In addition to the synthetic vision EFIS PFD, which depicts a 3-D flight path, there is a Navigation Display. This consists of a moving map that utilizes Jeppesen NavData and has the capability to include weather and traffic data. The map displays flight path and terrain that is near or above the pilot¹s current altitude and satisfies the FAA TAWS mandate for all turbine-powered aircraft. Two unique features of the moving map display are a horizontal projected path showing a wind-corrected track of the aircraft up to one minute in the future, and a patented deat-stick glide area depiction that is corrected for turns, wind and terrain. A conventional HSI/RMI presentation is also included.

In addition to being TSO'd, the FlightLogic EFIS is STC'd for over 600 general aviation aircraft and is shipping now. Civilian pilots have never had access to synthetic vision or HITS with real time terrain modeling before. The simplicity of Chelton's FlightLogic System and its effectiveness in keeping pilots on course and aware of where that course is taking them is sure to have a significant impact on general aviation safety over the next decade. Chelton is a U.S. subsidiary of Cobham plc, a publicly traded $2 billion UK company.



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