At the risk of garnering the wrath of my buddy Scott Spangler who wondered here last week whether technology was really making us more goon-like than aviator, I present yet another piece of technology. This one functions much like a Swiss Army Knife for pilots flying both in and out of the clouds.
Generically labeled a Heads Up Display, the particular version in today’s story belongs to Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins that calls it a Heads Up Guidance system or HGS.
Quite simply, an HGS takes all the really important bits of instrument flying data — heading, airspeed, altitude, course, wind, glideslope, terrain … and puts them all in a single location right in front of the pilot’s eyes. That means an HGS eliminates many of those vertigo-inducing head movements down to the instruments, back up to look out the window and back down again to the panel … over and over. It also reduces landing and takeoff minimums in IFR conditions and can even keep pilots from smacking into things in the dark or clouds while flying since it can incorporate synthetic vision into the display. But wait there’s more … much more.
Time for the disclaimer. An HGS is usually found on large aircraft and while there might not be an HGS in the immediate future for those of us flying anything smaller than a King Air or a Citation Mustang, people hanging around this industry for a few years should know how and when this technology intersects with their future.
With Christmas just a few days away, the nice folks at Rockwell-Collins managed to roll out a new HGS iPad app just in time. You can download it for free and play HGS Flight to your heart’s content as you learn what makes an HGS work and why I think they’ll be coming to all airplanes one day. Give a listen to my interview with Bryan Rennekamp, the HGS iPad idea man and senior marketing manger at Rockwell Collins. Then run … don’t walk … to the iPad app store and download “HGS Flight.” Take it out for a spin and let’s compare scores after the holidays. And a soon to be released HGS Flight update will allow people all over the globe to compare scores, so you’d better get flying.
Happy holidays to all.
Rob Mark & Scott Spangler