High-Noon Visibility at Midnight with Synthetic Vision

What if your plane could sense the terrain below you even in murky weather or the dead of night, and you could see it plain as day on a view screen?

Sound too much like Star Trek? Guess again.

Aviation engineers are hard at work developing this new ability to see, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch in Flying blind can’t happen with latest cockpit magic (posted on montereyherald.com). The article states:

Today, pilots must study their instruments and conjure up a mental picture of where they are and what the aircraft is doing based on the aeronautical map in the pilot’s lap and cockpit gauges showing airspeed, altitude, course heading and aircraft pitch and roll in relation to the horizon. Those mental calculations take time and talent, adding significantly to pilot workload.

Many accidents occur because the pilot, who should always be thinking about what’s coming next – it’s called "flying ahead of the plane" – fails to keep up with current demands.

With synthetic vision and enhanced vision, which uses infrared or millimeter wave technologies to improve low-vision situations, boosting pilots’ awareness of their surroundings is expected to help reduce the two leading causes of fatal aviation accidents – flying into terrain and loss of control during flight.

Read the article for more details about this new system in action.