Saturday, May 23, 2015

Turn By Turn Navigation

These are some thoughts I've had recently about autopilots and EFBs and other avionics in the plane. Some are silly, but I think some might have a place, I just don't know how to quantify them. I sort of got this idea when reading about pilots missing stuff, and how close we are o having reliable Human Machine Interface (HMI).

In the car, having turn by turn navigation is pretty handy, when going somewhere unfamiliar. Sometimes roads are close together, and turns are confusing, especially the signs offering help. In the air, if navigating on airways, it is less confusing, but sometimes we don't remember if the turn to was 135 or 145 degrees. Autopilots can help, it has the plan, and if it missed the turn, it will fly a correction course. Maybe having a voice say "turn to heading 135 in a quarter mile" won't help. How about a voice to read the latest winds for the area we are in "winds 220 at 35", it might be good to know, especially if fuel is burning quicker than plan. I was thinking more on final, if the winds are changing, and AWOS is updating quickly, maybe that would be a handy bit of information. The volume would have to be low, or the tone of the voice would have to be just right to overcome what ever other noise may be happening.

The FAA has started more and more data link facilities. CPDLC is being made available to more and more aircraft. Push that further, and start looking at CDM, so the aircraft can fly the straight line. For many reasons, a flight should plan to use waypoints and stay on airways, but how about once airborne, the pilot be allowed to ask for direct to the destination. If the Primary Flight Display (PFD) had a button, "ask for Direct", that would query the FAA URET system, and make a plan that might work.

The connected cockpit has many people worried. Will hackers be able to fly the airplane, is always the worry. Certainly smart people are worried about it, and they won't let it happen. There might be people in the company that don't worry about it, and can show all the economic reasons to just hook the autopilot to the passenger WiFi, but none of the engineers will let it happen. Perhaps when no one is in the cockpit, all the systems will be on one network, but I hope not.

Writing the blog is certainly refreshing. Yesterday my thoughts were really out there, but having a day or so to temper the thoughts, I've managed to narrow things down to some practical thoughts. Hopefully my thoughts will bring you some ideas.

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