FAA Seeks Comments on Safety Regs for Bomber Head-up Display

The video display on the HUD constitutes new and novel technology for which the FAA has no certification criteria.
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The video display on the HUD constitutes new and novel technology for which the FAA has no certification criteria.

Because of evolving aircraft technology, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seeking comments on the safety standards of a video head-up display (HUD) for bomber aircraft that could obstruct a pilot’s view.

On March 30, 2011, the FAA posted a Federal Register notice—Special Conditions: Bombardier Model BD-700-1A10 and BD-700-1A11 Airplanes, Head-Up Display With Video Synthetic Vision System (SVS)—that seeks comments on additional safety standards that the FAA considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by existing airworthiness standards.

On Jan. 26, 2007, Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), on behalf of Bombardier Inc., located in Montreal Canada, applied to the New York Aircraft Certification Office (NYACO) for FAA approval of a type-design change on the Bombardier Model BD-700-1A10 and BD-700-1A11 aircrafts. Those aircraft models are known under the marketing designation of Global Express and Global 5000, respectively, the notice says. The change is to introduce the Rockwell-Collins avionics suite to replace the existing Honeywell Primus 2000EP avionics suite and includes the installation of a SVS that displays video imagery.

The video display on the HUD constitutes new and novel technology for which the FAA has no certification criteria. Regulations do not permit visual distortions and reflections that could interfere with a pilot’s normal duties and was not written in anticipation of such technology. Other applications for certification of such technology are anticipated in the near future and magnify the need to establish FAA safety standards that can be applied consistently for all such approvals.

The FAA has approved on transport category airplanes the use of HUD that display flight symbols without a significant visual obscuration of the outside view, the notice says. When the FAA began to evaluate the display of enhanced vision system (EVS) imagery on the HUD, significant potential to obscure the outside view became apparent, contrary to current standards, according to the notice.

Regulations do not permit distortions and reflections in the pilot-compartment view that can interfere with normal duties, and the rule was not written in anticipation of such technology. The video image potentially interferes with the pilot’s ability to see the natural scene in the center of the forward field of view. Therefore, the FAA issued special conditions for such HUD/EVS installations to ensure that the level of safety required by the administration would be met even when the image might partially obscure the outside view. While many of the characteristics of EVS and SVS video differ in some ways, they have one thing in common; the potential for interference with the outside view through the airplane windshield, the notice says. The FAA proposes special conditions for new and novel technologies to achieve equivalent levels of safety.

Although a pilot may readily be able to see around and through small, individual, stroke-written symbols on the HUD, the pilot might not be able to see around or through the image that fills the display without some interference of the outside view.

Nevertheless, the SVS may be capable of meeting the required level of safety when considering the combined view of the image and the outside scene visible to the pilot through the image. It is essential that the pilot can use this combination of image and natural view of the outside scene as safely and effectively as the pilot-compartment view currently available without the SVS image.

Because regulation do not provide for any alternatives or considerations for such a new and novel system, the FAA establishes safety requirements that assure an equivalent level of safety and effectiveness of the pilot-compartment view as intended by that rule. The purpose of this special condition is to provide the unique pilot-compartment-view requirements for the SVS installation.

The deadline for comments is April 19, 2011, and comments must include the docket number NM451. The addresses and procedures for filing comments are: For sending comments through the U.S. Postal System, mail two copies of comments to Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Airplane Directorate, Attn: Rules Docket (ANM-113), Docket No. NM451, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356. Comments can be hand delivered to the Transport Airplane Directorate at the same address.

For further information contact Dale Dunford, FAA, ANM-111, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2239 facsimile (425) 227-1100.