Drucella Andersen Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

January 5, 1994 (Phone: 202/358-4701) Don Nolan Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. (Phone: 805/258-3447) RELEASE: 94-2 NASA DEVELOPS ENHANCED RUNWAY VIEWS FOR SUPERSONIC PILOTS NASA is testing a new optical system that would let pilots see the runway during nose-high landings without relying on complex mechanical structures or computer-generated views. The Research External Vision Display (REVD) is a system of lenses and mirrors that reflects the view of the runway under the nose of the aircraft to a pilot in the cockpit. It does not need electronics or video cameras and has no moving parts. NASA started flight tests of the device on Dec. 23, 1993, using a modified F-104 aircraft at Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. "Pilots of supersonic aircraft usually land at a high angle-of-attack to maintain the descent rate at low speeds. This may block runway visibility at a crucial time during landing," said NASA project pilot Steve Ishmael. "The REVD system, which is basically an upside-down periscope, could be an effective solution." The project will collect data to see how suitable such a system is to land an aircraft. Up to 20 flights are planned in the current test schedule. The program is slated to conclude by the end of January.

An REVD-like system could help pilots of a future U.S. supersonic airliner see the runway during the landing approach. The concepts for such a plane have a long, pointed nose that rules out forward-looking windows. The European Concorde and Russian Tu-144 supersonic transports attack the problem by dropping the entire nose in front of the windshield. This approach works, but the mechanism that moves the nose is heavy, complex and expensive. Another option is to equip a supersonic aircraft with video cameras or have an onboard computer create a "synthetic" view of the runway based on input from different types of sensors. -more-2But the electronic components in cameras and computers are not as durable as a simple mirror system, and video cameras have only one-hundredth the resolution of the human eye. Future hypersonic aircraft, which would fly at more than five times the speed of sound, are expected to have similar problems with forward visibility. Even heat-resistant glass, if developed, could be damaged by impacts of raindrops or dust particles. Installation of the device on the two-seat NASA F-104 requires a fairing extending from the fuselage just below the cockpit. The fairing houses the lower part of the REVD system, which looks out from beneath the aircraft and reflects the view up to the pilot in the rear cockpit. Future designs may eliminate the fairing, which protrudes into the airstream. This could be done by recessing the REVD into the fuselage or by designing a retractable device that would drop down during landings. The NASA-Dryden Project Manager is Roy Bryant. The project is a joint effort of Dryden; NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calif.; the National Aero-Space Plane Joint Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Lockheed Forth Worth Company, Texas; Kaiser Optical Electronics, Carlsbad, Calif.; and Systems Technologies Inc., Mountain View, Calif. -end-

NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos and video to accompany this release are available to media representatives by calling the Dryden Public Affairs Office, 805/258-3447.