The FAA's push to enable future airport operations in practically zero visibility is spurring a great deal of technology work not only for the airborne segment but the ground portion of a flight as well. The concept is to use sensors and displays to give pilots a clear view of their path from the gate to the runway and vice versa. Ideally, that presentation will also include alerts for situations where there is threat of an incursion from another aircraft or vehicle.
NASA continues to investigate a small solution to the big problem in the form of a head-mounted miniature display (HMD) to be worn by airline and business aviation pilots. Moving with the head and tracked in the cockpit, the HMD removes the field-of-view limitations of a fixed head-up display. Also, the technology can display information in color rather than in monochromatically.
The agency sees HMDs as a potential tool for “better-than-visual” (BTV) capability in the next-generation air transportation system. “The BTV operational concept replicates the capacity of today's VFR [visual flight rules] operations and more importantly, meets and improves on the safety of today's VFR flight in all weather [conditions],” says NASA.