AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020 - 77

The evolution of HUDs
You could reasonably argue that today' s head-up displays
had their genesis more than a century ago, at the very dawn
of the age of aviation. That first incarnation sought to help
combat pilots shoot down enemy aircraft the reflector sight.
After all, eyes outside is all well and good except when the
pilot needs to evade enemy aircraft - or, in civilian aircraft,
monitor instruments for takeoff, for landing and maneuvering. Resolving this conflict occupied the minds of some very
sharp engineers, for years, many of them informed by their
experiences flying combat aircraft during orld ar II and
later.
That orld ar I reflector sight, a development of Germany, provided a parallax-free optical sight to help pilots aim.
Pilots of Mustangs and Thunderbolts and Corsairs and the
rest enjoyed the advantage of head-up gunsights, called the
gyro gunsight.
This evolution of the reflector sight added gyro correction
to the pilot' s optical aiming device to help them point their
machine guns where the enemy plane would be when the
bullets got there. That' s called leading the target, something
any bird hunter, skeet or trap shooter knows.
Ditto for combat pilots - though when the gun platform
and target both move at high speed and in three dimensions,
the skill isn' t the easiest to master. But master you must to
survive air-to-air combat.
Those early air-combat pilots enjoyed the benefits of flying
head-up during dogfights and by the mid-1930s the follow-on
gyro gunsight. The gyro gunsight added a reticle that moved
in reaction to the aircraft' s speed and turn rate to solve the
amount of lead necessary and show the solution to the pilot.
As aircraft performance advanced and the jet age produced higher speeds, aircraft makers and avionics engineers
recognized the benefits of putting flight information where the
pilot could see instruments with their head up.
Few flying situations beg more for head-up flying than
aircraft carrier ops. The pilot must glance at the gauges
between monitoring the landing signal officer's flag signals
and the approach end of a flight deck moving away from the
aircraft at 30-plus knots.
By the mid-1950s, the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research and Development developed a mock-up of a HUD
concept, as well as a sidestick control hoping to ease the
higher workload of pilots flying modern jet aircraft while simplifying the instrumentation. That research didn' t make it into
any cockpits of the day.
But that crude HUD mock-up used all the features of
today's modern HUD units a projector, combiner and videogeneration computer processor.
ith traditional HUD systems, the large projector unit

mounted on the cockpit to shine its light on an optical combiner, a type of lens mounted ahead of the pilot and on the
pilot' s line of sight. The optical combiner typically stows away
when not in use.
Until the past decade or so, the size of HUD components
largely precluded their use in anything smaller than an airliner. But technologies change, and the revolutions in digital
technologies helped these systems evolve both in capabilities
and siz es.
What you see is what you need
At a minimum, a functional HUD projects an image on a
screen that shows flight data ahead of the aircraft itself - so
the pilot' s eyes need not change focal point when scanning
between the touchdown zone and the HUD imagery.
The basic information approaches that of a primary flight
display, typically indicating attitude, compass indication,
altitude, airspeed and vertical speed.
As HUDs and computing power improved, some HUDs
incorporated more data such as navigation indication, radio
frequencies, threat presentations, even terrain in recent
years.
The appeal of a HUD advanced so much that automakers
began incorporating relatively simple HUDs into their products. Most show at least a speedometer, but some add more
relevant indications such as transmission-shifter position, fuel
level, oil pressure and coolant temperature.
The benefits are common More time looking ahead and
less time looking down at the panel - dashboard, in this case.
As the capabilities of aircraft HUDs advanced, engineers
added more indications. Today, HUDs on higher-performance
systems include day and all weather flight symbology with
details such as distance-measuring equipment distance,
localiz er and glideslope indications, radar altimeter, even the
simulated outline of runways in the aircraft' s database.
In the opinion of many pilots, a HUD most shows its worth
at night and in instrument meteorological conditions, but others value them as much during daylight and visual meteorological conditions. The need to monitor traffic adds to the
value of a HUD.
Some HUDs display traffic from various sensors. Another
feature on some: An overlay of outside terrain features via
an enhanced-vision-system sensor, an increasingly common
feature on business jets.
Options span the spectrum
Today, HUDs exist in varying sizes and capabilities with
most sharing their basic abilities. Advances in HUD technolContinued on following page...

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AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AEA Pilot's Guide 2019-2020

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