The US Federal Aviation Administration last week certified the first head-up display (HUD) designed for use with general aviation aircraft.
The SkyDisplay HUD displays flight information in front of the pilot's eyes as they look forward, removing the need to look down at the avionics at critical moments such as final approach. Until now HUDs have been available largely on military aircraft and high-end business jets.
"SkyDisplay raises the proficiency of all pilots in all conditions and phases of flight given the reduction in pilot workload and significant enhancement to situational awareness," the system's developer MyGoFlight has stated.
"Simply stated, HUDs make flying safer. Critical flight information from the aircraft’s digital flight deck is displayed head-up. Innovation and new technologies have allowed SkyDisplay to lower the cost of traditional HUDs by as much as ten times"
The SkyDisplay system has two major components: a HUD projector and an aircraft interface device (AID) that reads the ARINC 429 and serial data busses. The AID is a commercial off-the-shelf modular computer system with mini PCIe card slots to support add-on I/O module integration.
More than 20 aircraft have committed to pre-certification positions to have SkyDisplay installed. These aircraft operate under FAR Part 23 rules for piston, turbo-prop and light jets, and include Cirrus, Cessna, Beechcraft, Embraer, Daher, Piper, Air Tractor/Fire Boss.
The avionics integrated with these aircraft include flight decks from Aspen Avionics, Garmin, and Honeywell with other integrations planned in the future. SkyDisplay is also available with an enhanced vision system (EVS) developed with the assistance of Astronics.
HUD EVS enables pilots to fly around weather and aids in seeing through smoke and light fog while still maintaining lookout rather than watching avionics. Special ops operators have reported finding the HUD EVS system invaluable in firefighting missions to identify and hit hot spots with much greater accuracy. SAR and aerial application operations may also benefit from a HUD EVS.
More information is available on the SkyDisplay website.