For more information please send us your email address.
TECHFIND - PROTECTION
Low Visibility Landing
A British research laboratory in partnership with industry partners has demonstrated a new technology to help helicopter pilots land more safely and efficiently. A Low Visibility Landing (LVL) system, could offer a solution for 'helicopter brownout' a situation that occurs when a pilot loses visual references due to dust or sand re-circulating during take-off or landing. Brownout poses a major safety concern and problem when operating helicopters in desert conditions. The amount of dust blown up can completely obscure all visual references. This makes landing more difficult and dangerous and increases the risk of damage. The solution proposed uses a small helmet-mounted display to provide a virtual 3-D representation of the landing zone that stays fixed to the earth as the pilot approaches. The display uses symbology designed to augment the real world picture but also to provide flight critical information in a clear format allowing the crew to assess the height, speed, and drift during the final landing approach. When the real-world cues are obscured by the dust they are seemlesly replaced with the system's cues. The display can be fitted to night vision goggles, supporting day and night operations. The team developed the system and tested the concept over a six months period, in simulator trials, using front-line Merlin helicopter crews to refine the solution and conduct a large number of helicopter take-offs and landings to show that the system did indeed make these safer. The system was recently demonstrated in successful flight trials on a Lynx helicopter demonstrating effective 3-D conformal symbology. Follow-on development is nearing completion and subject to normal approval procedures the production system is expected to be deployed to front-line helicopters. Research continues into ways to allow pilots to operate more safely and effectively in low visibility conditions; civil applications could include the emergency and rescue services operating in adverse weather such as fog and mist.