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New synthetic vision software helps pilots stay on track despite low visibility

September 6, 2011, 07:21 pm

The FAA recently approved Aspen Avionics' newest Evolution Synthetic Vision software, designed to aid pilots in topographically complex terrain, low-visibility situations or areas of heavy air traffic, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

The GPS terrain visualization features color-coded obstacle advisories and is available to existing Aspen ESV customers as an upgrade for $2,995, according to the source.

Synthetic vision gives pilots an electronic visual of the area they're flying through, helping to reduce the hazards of flying in low visibility situations. According to NASA's Aviation Safety Program director Michael Lewis, limited visibility is the most frequent factor contributing to plane crashes, and advanced synthetic vision software goes a long way toward limiting these types of accidents.

"With Global Positioning System signals pilots can now know exactly where they are," said Lewis. "Add super-accurate terrain databases and graphical displays and we can now draw three-dimensional moving scenes that will show pilots exactly what's outside. The type of accidents that can happen in poor visibility just don't happen when pilots can see the terrain hazards outside."

Because of the nature of aviation, pilots endure a unique set of risks that most ordinary citizens don't have to consider. While advances in technology continue to make some of the inherent risks - like low visibility flight - things of the past, proper pilot insurance coverage often involves pilot-specific considerations. Pilot associations can offer proper coverage and sometimes discounted rates.

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