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Proceedings Paper

Evolution Of Map Display Optical Systems
Author(s): Alan Boot
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Paper Abstract

It is now over 20 years since Ferranti plc introduced optically projected map displays into operational aircraft navigation systems. Then, as now, it was the function of the display to present an image of a topographical map to a pilot or navigator with his present position clearly identified. Then, as now, the map image was projected from a reduced image stored on colour micro film. Then, as now, the fundamental design problems are the same.In the exposed environment of an aircraft cockpit where brightness levels may vary from those associated with direct sunlight on the one hand, to starlight on the other, how does one design an optical system with sufficient luminance, contrast and resolution where in the daytime sunlight may fall on the display or in the pilot's eyes, and at night time the display luminance must not detract from the pilot's ability to pick up external clues? This paper traces the development of Ferranti plc optically projected map displays from the early V Bomber and the ill-fated TSR2 displays to the Harrier and Concorde displays. It then goes on to the development of combined map and electronic displays (COMED), showing how an earlier design, as fitted to Tornado, has been developed into the current COMED design which is fitted to the F-18 and Jaguar aircraft. In each of the above display systems particular features of optical design interest are identified and their impact on the design as a whole are discussed. The use of prisms both for optical rotation and translation, techniques for the maximisation of luminance, the problems associated with contrast enhancement, particularly with polarising filters in the presence of optically active materials, the use of aerial image combining systems and the impact of the pilot interface on the system parameter are all included.Perhaps the most interesting result in considering the evolution of map displays has not been so much the designer's solutions in overcoming the various design problems but that both the pilot and his environment are themselves an integral part of the system optical design.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 June 1983
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 0369, Max Born Centenary Conf, (16 June 1983); doi: 10.1117/12.934417
Show Author Affiliations
Alan Boot, Ferranti plc (Scotland)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0369:
Max Born Centenary Conf
M. John Colles; D. William Swift, Editor(s)

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