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Optimizing terrain database modelling for integrated systems training
Published May 08, 2002 by Royal Aeronautical Society in United Kingdom
"Controlled Flight Into Terrain" (CFIT) continues to be a major cause of fatal aircraft accidents. The aviation industry has responded to this problem with improved avionics and increased training focus on terrain situational awareness. Avionics boxes have also been enhanced to provide flight crews with graphical displays of hazardous terrain and obstacles, and to provide earlier warnings when the flight path would bring the aircraft dangerously close to the ground. The Flight Safety Foundation has created the Approach and Landing Accident Reduction task force to educate pilots in terrain awareness and to promote safety improvements in policies, procedures, equipment, and training programs. On flight simulators, there has been an effort to provide pilots with the cues needed for terrain awareness. For the cues to be correct, it has become essential that all the terrain data on the flight simulator agree.
Various forms of terrain simulation have existed for some time, but most have been crude approximations of terrain that are difficult to implement and do not provide the needed fidelity. During the last five years, through the use of better visual systems, terrain simulation improvements have been made. However a large number of older simulators are still in use, and these devices need to provide better terrain cues.
This paper examines the problems that have existed with terrain simulation, and how the United Airlines Simulator Engineering department has evolved its approach to simulating the Earth. Also discussed are some ideas on future needs and enhancements.