What Is An Enhanced Flight Vision System?

Even in recent memory, the technology available to pilots of commercial aircraft has come a long way. Cockpit crew’s workloads have been managed by the implementation of various technologies that improve aspects such as vision from the nose of the plane. An Enhanced Flight Vision System is one of these, but what exactly does an EFVS do?

Enhanced Flight Vision System
An EFVS is typically visible below a plane’s windscreen. Photo: Olivier Cleynen via Wikimedia Commons

What is an EFVS?

An Enhanced Flight Vision System, otherwise known by the acronym EFVS, refers to technology that gives pilots a better view of the world around them than would naturally be possible. The system can take one of several forms, with pilots able to view the EFVS either as part of their heads-up display, or even through a head-mounted goggle-based device.

Similarly, the equipment that records the pictures transmitted through such displays can also differ. For example, the cameras in question can depict the world around them in either a standard colour manner, or in the form of an infrared or even radar display.

By providing pilots a more complete picture of the world around them, the use of an EFVS can help at times when visibility is limited, either by weather or the cockpit’s sightlines. The latter of these helps to eliminate what can be considerable blindspots from the pilot’s elevated position. In some instances, the display will also feature overlays depicting aspects like a horizon bar. Things such as these ehnance both safety and operational capabilities.

Enhanced Flight Vision System
On some aircraft, the EFVS camera is mounted lower down. Photo: Spartan7W via Wikimedia Commons

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Airbus’s plans for such technology

In the world of European commercial aviation, the topic of Enhanced Flight Vision Systems has recently become one of particular interest. This comes after Airbus announced that it would be developing a form of EFVS for use on its A320 family planes. According to Aviation Today, it may also roll out the program on other designs from its diverse portfolio.

In August this year, the European manufacturer selected Collins Aerospace as the provider of its EFVS equipment. Collins will offer Airbus the services of a next-generation Enhanced Vision Sensor to optimize visibility in poor weather. The company explained that the use of its product will lead to “improved on-time performance, operational cost and fuel savings.”

British Airways Airbus A320neo Getty
Airbus will initially implement EFVS on A320 family aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

The company has now reached a key step in bringing this to life. This week, in association with Invest In Toulouse and Finn Partners, Simple Flying has been in attendance at Aerospace Tech Week in Toulouse, France. Here, Fabrice Bousquet, a Vision Systems Expert at Airbus UpNext, confirmed that the manufacturer has now tested a demonstrator for the system inflight on an A320. This involved the use of a camera box in the plane’s nose.

Historically a military system

In the grand scheme of things, EFVS has only recently become a topic in civil aviation. Indeed, the FAA first certified such a system for commercial use in 1999, despite suggestions dating back to the 1970s. Meanwhile, military aircraft have benefitted from night vision technology for many years. Impressively, this dates back to the Second World War.

Did you know about Enhanced Flight Vision Systems? Have you ever flown on an aircraft with such technology? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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