Available Technology

Variable Visibility Glasses for Instrument Flight Training

During instrument flight training the pilot must have his/her view through the aircraft windscreen restricted to simulate low / visibility conditions while permitting the pilot to view the instrument panel. In one current method, a hood is draped across the aircraft windscreen, or a face mask...
Patent Abstract: 
The technology combines electroactively controlled liquid crystal lenses with a means for determining the pilots head position. When the pilots head is positioned to look outside the front or side windscreens, the lenses restrict light transmission. When the pilots head is lowered to view the instrument panel or other cockpit displays, the lenses allow light transmission so that the view of the instruments is unimpeded. Light transmission through the lenses can be selectively controlled by the system, ranging from 0.1% to 10%. The lenses are mounted in conventional eyeglass frames. The frames include a detection system to determine the position and orientation of the pilots head. Circuits within the frames activate the lenses to restrict light transmission when the pilots head is oriented to look out the windscreen. A PC, linked to the aircraft flight computer or altimeter, is also in the control loop and turns off the system to allow unimpeded visibility when the aircraft is below 200 feet or for other specified conditions. The technology readiness level of this invention is at stage seven with a prototype having been tested.
Benefits 
Safer - co-pilot visibility is not impeded, and the system is deactivated below a specified altitude -Improved comfort system - uses conventional eyeglass frames, which are relatively lightweight and do not restrict the pilots movement -Compatible with existing eyewear - system can be easily modified to fit over prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses -More natural - natural head movements trigger the system to allow unimpeded visibility of the instruments and cockpit displays -Improved flight experience - reduces potential for pilot disorientation so the trainee can focus on flying the aircraft
applications 
Agency
NASA
State: 
Virginia
Phone: 
757-864-3346
Lab Representatives
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