The Visual Guidance division of research at the William J Hughes FAA technical center focuses on reducing collisions both when approaching and on the airfield. To this end research continues on emerging visual guidance systems and improving existing systems. CEAT at the University of Illinois has aided research by improving testing methodologies. In many cases it is of pivotal importance to know where specific lights are in relation to both aircraft and existing infrastructure. Maps and surveys allow for the determination of current infrastructure and flight paths. Mapping software and instruction has been provided for projects in order to show present infrastructure and visualization of other possible lighting patterns. Mapping software can also be used to visualize where lighting could be seen by pilots and area residents. To this end CEAT has provided usages of equipment, trained personnel, and provided instruction on precise surveying equipment. Recently a survey was performed at an airfield prior to the installation of a new airfield beacon. Based on the data collected in the survey the best location for the beacon was chosen. The survey focused on airfield infrastructure and nearby trees which could interrupt line of site to the beacon for pilots. Also, the survey equipment has the ability to expedite the laying of lighting patterns by calculating a grid based on a line and signaling the user as to where to move. In addition to survey and mapping, CEAT has engineered a device to record data during experiments. This device collects and synchronizes data from multiple sources, including audio, video, and GPS. The data can then be replayed such that the coordinates taken by the GPS are available alongside all of the video and voice recordings. This is a groundbreaking project which will greatly improve the accuracy and efficiency of work by FAA personnel.
On November 4, 2010, CEAT and the Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois performed a successful test flight of the Visual Guidance Data Logging System, taking off from Willard Airport and following a predetermined GPS approach path used in low-visibility scenarios. The path followed and data points logged are viewable in the embedded kml below this text. You may need to install the Google Earth Plugin.