RELEASE NO. 02-073
Synthetic Vision technologies take off at local runways
A series of test flights will bring NASA researchers one step
closer to preventing the most fatal aviation accidents.
A dozen private pilots are flying NASAs specially equipped
Cessna 206 aircraft to compare several Synthetic Vision System
(SVS) cockpit displays in real-world environments. The advanced
cockpit technology will offer pilots a clear three-dimensional
picture of the terrain outside the aircraft even in the worst
weather or darkest night conditions.
Researchers expect to accumulate nearly 90 hours during test
flights at Newport News-Williamsburg International and Roanoke
Regional Airports. These results will confirm and extend
already-completed ground-based testing.
"Simulator tests could tell us only so much. Test flights give
us the full motion effect, and are our first true look at Low
Visibility Loss of Control (LVLOC) accident prevention,"
said Lou Glaab, leader of the Synthetic Vision Systems General
Aviation (SVS-GA) element at NASAs Langley Research Center in
Because limited visibility is one of the greatest contributors
in fatal aviation crashes, NASAs Aviation Safety Program
(AvSP), based at Langley Research Center, is developing SVS
technologies for existing and future aircraft.
"Synthetic Vision System technology is the true revolution in
general aviation aircraft instrumentation. SVS can really achieve
substantial improvements in safety and operational performance,"
Pilots wear restrictive-vision hoods and fly in hazardous
weather conditions during the test flights. Because of their own
limited visibility, pilots rely on the SVS cockpit displays for a
clear electronic view of what is outside their window. During the
tests, researchers will compare the flat terrain in Newport News to
the hilly terrain in Roanoke, Va., to establish the most effective
resolutions and texturing concepts for SVS displays.
NASA researchers hope to use this synthetic vision technology to
promote safety in general aviation aircraft, as well as in
The Synthetic Vision Systems General Aviation (SVS-GA) element
is part of AvSP. AvSP is a partnership with the Federal Aviation
Administration, the Department of Defense, aircraft manufacturers,
airlines and universities. This partnership supports a national
effort to reduce aviation accident fatalities by 80 percent by
Researchers at four NASA field installations are working with
the FAA and industry to develop advanced, affordable technologies
to make flying safer: Langley; Ames Research Center at Moffett
Field, Calif.; Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.;
and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
For more information on the NASA Aviation Safety Program, visit
the Internet at http://avsp.larc.nasa.gov.
The Cessna 206 and its NASA researchers will be available for
pictures and interviews from 12:45-3 p.m. Thursday, August 22, at
Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation on Waypoint Drive at the Roanoke
Regional Airport. For more information call Kathy Barnstorff at 757
344-8511 or Jeff Caplan at 757 593-3478.
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