NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) has conducted research in the area of helmet-mounted display (HMD)/head-worn display (HWD) over the past 30 years. Initially, NASA LaRC’s research focused on military applications, but recently NASA has conducted a line of research in the area of HWD for commercial and business aircraft. This work revolved around numerous simulation experiments as well as flight tests to develop technology and data for industry and regulatory guidance. This paper summarizes the results of NASA’s HMD/HWD research. Of note, the work tracks progress in wearable collimated optics, head tracking, latency reduction, and weight. The research lends credence to a small, sunglasses-type form factor of the HWD being acceptable to commercial pilots, and this goal is now becoming technologically feasible. The research further suggests that an HWD may serve as an “equivalent” head-up display (HUD) with safety, operational, and cost benefits. “HUD equivalence” appears to be the economic avenue by which HWDs can become mainstream on the commercial and business aircraft flight deck. If this happens, NASA’s research suggests that additional operational benefits using the unique capabilities of the HWD can open up new operational paradigms.
NASA Langley has conducted research in the area of helmet-mounted/head-worn displays over the past 30 years. Initially, NASA Langley's research focused on military applications, but recently has conducted a line of research in the area of head-worn displays for commercial and business aircraft. This work has revolved around numerous simulation experiments as well as flight tests to develop technology and data for industry and regulatory guidance. The paper summarizes the results of NASA's helmet-mounted/head-worn display research. Of note, the work tracks progress in wearable collimated optics, head tracking, latency reduction, and weight. The research lends credence that a small, sunglasses-type form factor of the head-worn display would be acceptable to commercial pilots, and this goal is now becoming technologically feasible. The research further suggests that a head-worn display may serve as an “equivalent" Head-Up Display (HUD) with safety, operational, and cost benefits. “HUD equivalence" appears to be the economic avenue by which head-worn displays can become main-stream on the commercial and business aircraft flight deck. If this happens, NASA's research suggests that additional operational benefits using the unique capabilities of the head-worn display can open up new operational paradigms.
Research, development, test, and evaluation of flight deck interface technologies is being conducted by NASA to proactively identify, develop, and mature tools, methods, and technologies for improving overall aircraft safety of new and legacy vehicles operating in Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). Under the Vehicle Systems Safety Technologies (VSST) project in the Aviation Safety Program, one specific area of research is the use of small Head-Worn Displays (HWDs) as an equivalent display to a Head-Up Display (HUD). Title
14 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 91.175 describes a possible operational credit which can be
obtained with airplane equipage of a HUD or an "equivalent" display combined with Enhanced Vision (EV). If successful, a HWD may provide the same safety and operational benefits as current BUD-equipped aircraft but for significantly more aircraft in which HUD installation is neither practical nor possible. A simulation experiment was conducted to evaluate if the HWD, coupled with a head-tracker, can provide an equivalent display to a HUD. Comparative testing was performed in the Research Flight Deck (RFD) Cockpit Motion Facility (CMF) full mission, motion-based simulator at NASA Langley. Twelve airline crews conducted approach and landing, taxi, and departure operations during low visibility operations (1000' Runway Visual Range (RVR), 300' RVR) at Memphis International Airport (Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identifier: KMEM). The results showed that there were no statistical differences in the crews performance in terms of touchdown and takeoff. Further, there were no statistical differences between the HUD and HWD in pilots' responses to questionnaires.
By 2025, U.S. air traffic is predicted to increase 3-fold and may strain the current air traffic management system, which
may not be able to accommodate this growth. In response to this challenge, a consortium of industry, academia and
government agencies have proposed a revolutionary new concept for U.S. aviation operations, termed the Next
Generation Air Transportation System or "NextGen". Many key capabilities are being identified to enable NextGen,
including the concept of "net-centric" operations whereby each aircraft and air services provider shares information to
allow real-time adaptability to ever-changing factors such as weather, traffic, flight trajectories, and security. Data-link is
likely to be the primary source of communication in NextGen. Because NextGen represents a radically different
approach to air traffic management and requires a dramatic shift in the tasks, roles, and responsibilities for the flight
deck, there are numerous research issues and challenges that must be overcome to ensure a safe, sustainable air
transportation system. Flight deck display and crew-vehicle interaction concepts are being developed that proactively
investigate and overcome potential technology and safety barriers that might otherwise constrain the full realization of
A Runway Incursion Prevention System (RIPS) integrated with a Synthetic Vision System concept (SVS) was tested at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and Wallops Flight Facility (WAL) in the summer of 2004. RIPS provides enhanced surface situational awareness and alerts of runway conflicts in order to prevent runway incidents while also improving operational capability. A series of test runs was conducted using a Gulfstream-V (G-V) aircraft as the test platform and a NASA test aircraft and a NASA test van as incurring traffic. The purpose of the study, from the RIPS perspective, was to evaluate the RIPS airborne incursion detection algorithms and associated alerting and airport surface display concepts, focusing on crossing runway incursion scenarios. This paper gives an overview of the RIPS, WAL flight test activities, and WAL test results.
The traditional head-up display (HUD) used in most modern fighter aircraft presents attitude information that is both conformal to the outside world and aligned with the body-axis of the aircraft. The introduction of helmet-mounted display (HMD) technology into simulated and actual flight environments has introduced an interesting issue regarding the presentation of attitude information. This information can be presented conformally or relative to the aircraft's body-axis, but not both (except in the special case where the pilot's line of sight is directly matched with the aircraft's body-axis). The question addressed with this study was whether attitude information displayed in an HMD should be presented with respect to the real world (conformally) or to the aircraft's body-axis. To answer this, both conformal and body-axis attitude symbology were compared under simulated air combat situations. The results of this study indicated that the body-axis concept was a more effective HMD display. A detailed description of the flight task and results of this study will be presented.