Monday, September 1, 2008
Flying by visual reference—regardless of the visibility
|VistaNav, now a Honeywell Bendix/King product, offers synthetic vision on a portable device.|
Over the past few years, Garmin has had a major hit with its G1000 glass panel. From a standing start, the product put the Olathe, Kans., GPS vendor into first place among glass-panel avionics makers (with more than 5,000 installations at this writing). In April, Garmin announced a synthetic vision upgrade, which puts color-coded terrain, obstacles and runways on the PFD. Under an experimental license, the G1000 with Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) initially flew in a Cessna 182; it’s now FAA-certificated in Diamond’s DA40 and as part of the new Cirrus Perspective glass panel for the SR22-GTS.
According to Garmin Director of Flight Operations Tom Carr, SVT consists of three major components. First, synthetic terrain derived from the TAWS database is displayed on the PFD and includes both terrain and obstacles. Second, a flight-path marker (displayed as a green circle with fins) shows how you’re going through space, taking into account wind, based on the aircraft’s attitude and heading reference. “You need something like that with synthetic terrain—if not, you’d misunderstand where you’re pointed,” says Carr. “It can be used to crab to a landing, with no outside view. In pitch, it shows where you’re going, as opposed to where the nose is pointed—so, for example, in a slow climb, it will show whether or not you’re going to miss terrain.” SVT’s third element is called Pathways, which is Garmin’s implementation of HITS. It displays rectangles that are 700 feet wide and 200 feet high, centered on the selected flight path and based on the terrain database. Unlike most other people we’ve spoken to about synthetic vision, Carr doesn’t buy into the notion of using Pathways (or any HITS implementation) as a primary form of guidance because of its sensitivity. Instead, Carr strongly recommends flying with guidance from a flight director, if the aircraft is so equipped (as are both the DA40 and SR22-GTS).
|With SVT enabled, the G1000 PFD immediately indicates that the flight path will not clear high terrain (left). Even if SVT isn’t enabled (right), the same high terrain is shown on the G1000 MFD, but the pilot has to look at the MFD to see it.|
Because Garmin licenses the G1000 to aircraft manufacturers, it doesn’t control pricing, but Carr told us that he expects it will be “very attractive.” Diamond offers SVT as a $9,995 option on the DA40, while Cirrus offers it as part of the $48,000 Cirrus Perspective package (including larger displays) on the SR22-GTS. Cessna has announced plans (but not pricing) to offer SVT on all of its G1000-equipped aircraft, beginning with the Citation Mustang, and Garmin itself expects to offer SVT on its G1000 upgrade to King Air C90 aircraft next year. For more information, visit www.garmin.com.
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