The cockpit of the future is here today with augmented reality, a wearable head-up display and point-and-click access to flight information triggered by the pilot’s eye movements.

It sounds like the most advanced fighter jets, where one can target weapons targeted merely by looking at them and pushing a button. It will soon be available on business jets as the first commercial product following the acquisition of Universal Avionics by Israel-based Elbit Systems.

Fresh from developing the FalconEye combined vision system for Dassault business jets (it merges the infrared enhanced vision system (EVS) with a global synthetic vision database and displays it on the cockpit head-up display), Elbit has gone several steps further by adapting military technology for peaceful purposes.

Most radical is the measuring of movements of the pilot’s eyes to see what he or she is looking at through the wearable head-up display (HUD). If, for example, the pilot focuses on a distant airport, a click of a button on the throttle or stick will bring up that airport’s information on the HUD, and another quick stare and click of the button can command communications.

Basically, all the information on the universal flight management system (FMS) can be accessed on the HUD.

Technically, the “head-up, head-down” flight deck system combines Elbit’s InSight display system and SkyLens, and adds many new features:

• Displays all FMS information super-positioned on the real-world view outside, allowing for a better understanding of navigation data.

• Provides an enhanced, more intuitive user interface – look, point, and click.

• Reduces workload in critical flight phases by allowing the operator to program the FMS looking out the window while flying the aircraft.

• Offers the first step to support single-pilot operation.

• Presents a wearable HUD to the retrofit market.

“What we are getting here is actually the full artificial augmented-reality environment that enables the pilot not only to get all the information by looking head-up, but also to command, and guide, and control the platform while looking outside, and performing some essential tasks while flying head-up instead of looking down,” says Elbit Systems spokesperson Dana Noyman.

The pilot can control the avionics via “look and select” while maintaining complete attention looking out of the window, adds Elbit Systems’ VP of commercial aviation, Dror Yahav. “The integration also allows for improved pilot performance with a significant reduction of workload, better single-pilot operation, and a new level of safety and operational effectiveness.”

During the en-route phase of flight, the pilot is most likely to monitor and rely on InSight (head-down). While in the approach-to-landing phase, past the initial approach fix, SkyLens becomes key.

The new click-and-command functionality has the ability to control the FMS and flight deck with the pilot’s sight. This allows the pilot to program and update flight path, runway selected and other critical FMS commands during critical approach phases, without distracting attention from flying the airplane head-up. The fully integrated function allows the pilot to change runway selected, approach selected and waypoint programing, all by looking on a virtually presented flight path and point selection with sight.

After the final approach fix, SkyLens provides assistance beyond the standard head-up information and symbology such as the ability to see the runway in low visibility and at night using EVS cameras. Synthetic vision comes into play, too, and at the pilot’s command can show the terrain and obstacles in whichever direction he or she is looking.

Asked about the danger of the pilot being overwhelmed by information on the wearable HUD, Noyman explains that the pilot is in control of the information displayed. Eyes flicking left or right will not trigger any data on the HUD unless the button is clicked too.

Universal and Elbit plan to offer a complete cockpit (they are already talking to an OEM, says Noyman), and could be ready for entry into service by early 2020. And they envisage a healthy retrofit market: Rather than buying a new aircraft to gain access to state-of-the-art functionality, operators now have an available upgrade solution – provided they have a Universal FMS.