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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Safer General Aviation

VistaNav SW-HW package.
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Mercury Computer Systems (Chelmsford, Mass.)
Zaon Flight Systems (Frisco, Texas)
WxWorx (Huntsville, Ala.)
Motion Computing (Austin, Texas)

The Challenge

Spatial disorientation, a condition in which a pilot's perception of direction differs from reality, is typically brought on by flying in poor conditions with limited visibility. Statistics show that between 5-10 percent of all general aviation accidents can be attributed to spatial disorientation, and 90 percent of these accidents are fatal. 3D synthetic vision navigation systems have been proven to significantly reduce spatial disorientation, but until now were not available for general aviation at an affordable price.

The Solution

Mercury Computer Systems developed the VistaNav™ Portable Synthetic Vision System, the first portable, true 3D synthetic vision system for general aviation. Using advanced 3D processing and imaging applications, coupled with Mercury's exclusive Inertial Navigation Unit, VistaNav generates and displays dynamic, realistic, synthetic 3D imagery, providing a cockpit-like view regardless of external conditions. Pilots have the option of a 2D, 3D or split-screen view with both 2D and 3D.

VistaNav translates the planned approach path into an easy-to-follow "Highway in the Sky" overlay complete with terrain and obstacle information that leads the pilot to the runway. While not intended to be used as the primary navigation system, VistaNav serves as a backup to the certified navigation instruments installed in the aircraft.

The Tools Used

Mercury's VistaNav Portable Synthetic Vision System that features four main components that use Bluetooth to wirelessly communicate and provide a single navigation aid for all phases of flight:

  • The Mobile Computer Platform (MCP) featuring a Motion Computing LS800 Tablet PC, running Microsoft Windows®-based aviation software
  • Mercury's GPS-enabled Inertial Navigation Unit (INU)
  • WxWorx's optional Satellite weather receiver module
  • Zaon Flight Systems' PCAS Traffic Receiver (optional module)

The Difference it Made

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