Avionics News October 2019 - 59

I

magine being a DC-3 captain on a dark and stormy night
in the 1930s, flying an A-N radio range approach to
minimums in real weather. You knew you were on-course
when the Morse codes for the "A" and "N" sides of the range
canceled each other out, producing a steady tone in your
headphones. Because the human-machine interface of the day
was limited by the available technology, pilots and co-pilots
were valued for their ability to pluck the range's steady tone
out of static-filled air, not just for their stick-and-rudder skills.
The technology has changed a bit since then. Ground-based
VOR facilities were developed and, along with the instrument
landing system, eventually replaced A-N ranges. In the
cockpit, electromechanical devices displayed the navigation
situation and for the most part eliminated
the need to use our ears for navigation.
Since researchers say that our sense of sight
processes more information than the sense of
hearing, that's a good and probably inevitable
outcome. The human-machine interface we
use in cockpits changed, thanks to newer
technology.
Even as the existing VOR/ILS network
in the United States is being reduced to a
minimum-required configuration in favor of
satellite-based navigation, the same basic left/
right, up/down visual cues it helped usher in
remain in the cockpit. Along the way, legacy
mechanical flight and navigation instruments
have been replaced by full-color displays
that draw magenta lines to depict where
our aircraft should be. The human-machine
interface changed once again, leveraging the
new technology.
But some elements of the typical cockpit's HMI haven't
changed much with time. Among them is the array of buttons,
knobs and switches required to manipulate even the most
modern avionics. While many of these controls have migrated
to the displays themselves, the interface still requires a human
to reach out and touch something in the cockpit, perhaps
during a high-workload portion of the flight. Any pilot who
has forgotten to take their GPS navigator out of "suspend"
mode in the initial stages of flying a missed approach
procedure can relate.
Minimizing the need to divert attention from the cockpit
task at hand is one reason co-pilots exist. It's also a driving
force behind cockpit automation, regardless of how many
pilots are available. But the current in-cockpit HMI still

requires attention to be diverted, if only to monitor the
automation - or push the "suspend" button. If only there were
some way to further leverage the automation to minimize the
cockpit distractions involved in managing it.
That's one of the ideas behind Universal Avionics'
ClearVision Interactive-FMS (i-FMS), software designed
to enhance the HMI between pilots and their avionics by,
among other things, leveraging the latest developments in
head-up displays and head-wearable displays. Universal, of
course, is a leading manufacturer of retrofit and forward-fit
avionics solutions for aircraft ranging from the Pilatus PC-12
to Airbuses and to Boeings, with substantial penetration
in the rotorcraft market. Operations for which its flagship

Courtesy of Universal Avionics

UNS-1 line of flight management systems is suited include
business and corporate aviation, military, special missions,
government and air carriers. The Tucson, Arizona-based
company also offers a comprehensive and customizable line
of primary flight and multifunction displays, data link and
communications management unit systems, and cockpit voice
and flight data recorders.
Universal's ClearVision is an integrated product family
incorporating enhanced vision system and 3D synthetic vision
system products. Because part of the reason to have SVS
and EVS available in the cockpit is to facilitate low-visibility
operations, the company also offers a mounted HUD and the
SkyLens, a head-wearable display. The SkyLens HWD was
Continued on following page
avionics news

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october

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Avionics News October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News October 2019

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Avionics News October 2019 - Cover1
Avionics News October 2019 - Cover2
Avionics News October 2019 - 1
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Avionics News October 2019 - Cover3
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