After flying an instrument approach under IFR conditions earlier this year using Rockwell Collins’ new HGS-3500 head-up display, I wasn’t surprised to learn the company has received a Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award. Rockwell Collins was named first runner up in the Transport category for introducing synthetic vision to its head-up guidance system -- the first such system to achieve certification.
The Wall Street Journal weeded through applications from 605 individuals, companies and organizations of which 35 winners and runners-up were selected for 16 categories.
Rockwell Collins’ innovative head-up display uses technology that injects the synthetic-vision image of the outside world onto an LED-illuminated liquid-crystal display instead of projecting the image as other HUD systems do. The picture includes critical flight data and symbols, and alerts such as unusual attitudes, traffic and wind shear.
During my flight in Rockwell Collins’ Challenger 601 test airplane, the HUD combined with the new Fusion avionics made the approach easy. Despite a stiff crosswind and only a few hundred feet between the ground and the cloud ceiling, I was amazed at the seamless transition from the synthetic-vision view through the HUD screen to seeing actual ground references. Best of all, I was already looking in the direction of the runway when I popped out of the clouds. At that point, I simply folded the HUD screen up and continued the descent to the runway, though it’s possible to continue to the runway by looking through the screen once you’re more familiar with the system..
See the system in action below.