(19)
(11)EP 2 384 973 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
25.05.2016 Bulletin 2016/21

(21)Application number: 11164685.7

(22)Date of filing:  03.05.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B64D 45/00  (2006.01)

(54)

Systems and methods for adjusting landing gear alert envelope for offshore platforms and building-top landings

Systeme und Verfahren zur Einstellung des Fahrwerkwarnungsbereichs für Landungen auf Offshore-Plattformen und Gebäuden

Systèmes et procédés d'ajustement d'enveloppe d'alerte de train d'atterrissage pour atterrissages sur des plateformes en mer et toits de bâtiments


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 07.05.2010 US 332527 P
23.06.2010 US 821536

(43)Date of publication of application:
09.11.2011 Bulletin 2011/45

(73)Proprietor: Honeywell International Inc.
Morris Plains, NJ 07950 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Ishihara, Yasuo
    Morristown, NJ 07962-2245 (US)
  • Johnson, Steve
    Morristown, NJ 07962-2245 (US)
  • Ostrom, Gary
    Morristown, NJ 07962-2245 (US)

(74)Representative: Houghton, Mark Phillip et al
Patent Outsourcing Limited 1 King Street
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1DZ
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1DZ (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A2-01/90694
US-A- 5 666 110
US-A- 4 980 684
US-A1- 2002 099 478
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] There have been several incidents where a helicopter pilot forgot to lower the landing gear during a rooftop landing or offshore platform landing. Because a helideck is raised (often a few hundred feet above the ground or ocean), the existing landing gear alert function doesn't provide a timely alert. In the current ground proximity warning system (GPWS), the landing gear alert envelope is determined only by the radio altitude. The aircraft's radio altitude continues to read a large value (300 feet, for example) until the helicopter gets over the helideck. At that point, the radio altitude jumps to 20 feet, for example. Often, the helicopter is sinking toward the helideck at that point, and there may not be sufficient time for the pilot to react.

    [0002] Document US 4 980 684 A (D1) is directed towards a warning system for a rotary wing aircraft, the warning system monitoring the altitude above ground and issues a warning when there is insufficient terrain clearance. The system of D1 is capable of issuing two warnings: a "too low terrain" warning, and a "too low gear" warning. With respect to the first warning, D1 discloses that this warning is issued when the altitude above ground of the aircraft is insufficient for the airspeed at which the aircraft is flying. Regarding the second warning, D1 discloses that this warning is issued if the pilot attempts to land with the landing gear up.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0003] The present invention provides a method as defined in claim 1. The method may include the features of any one or more of dependent claims 2 to 5.

    [0004] The present invention also provides a system as defined in claim 6. The system may include the features of any one or more of dependent claims 7 to 10.

    [0005] Often, helicopter pilots set a radio altimeter "bug" to an altitude that represents "minimum" safe altitude or decision altitude. Therefore, if the pilot is landing on a platform helideck that is 400 feet above the ocean, the pilot will be setting the "bug" to slightly above 400 feet, for example. This invention provides a landing gear alert at a to-be-determined (TBD) altitude (e.g., 100 feet) above where the "bug" is set to. Therefore, the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) provides a landing gear alert before the radio altimeter sees the helideck.

    [0006] With this invention, the pilot can still fly around at 300 feet with the landing gear up without getting a landing gear alert if the pilot sets the "bug" at lower altitude during non-landing operations.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0007] Preferred and alternative embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the following drawings:

    FIGURE 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary system formed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

    FIGURE 2 is a flowchart of an exemplary process performed by the system shown in FIGURE 1; and

    FIGURE 3 is a perspective view of a helicopter on approach to landing at a helipad on an oil rig.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



    [0008] As shown in FIGURE 1, a rotary-wing aircraft 12 includes a warning system 10 for providing a "landing gear not down" warning below an improved threshold altitude. The system 10 includes a Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) processor 48, audio outputs 52, warning lights 54, a barometric altimeter 60, a radio altimeter 62, a landing gear position sensor 64, one or more various other sensors 66, a user interface 68, and a display device 80.

    [0009] A pilot of the rotary-wing aircraft 12 uses the user interface 68 to set a bug altitude setting. The bug altitude setting is recorded or retrieved by the GPWS processor 48 for use in calculating an improved landing gear alert altitude. After the improved landing gear alert altitude is determined, the GPWS processor 48 generates a landing gear alert if a signal from the landing gear position sensor 64 indicates that the landing gear is not down and locked and an altitude value received from at least one of the radio altimeter 62 or the barometric altimeter 60 is below this improved landing gear alert altitude.

    [0010] FIGURE 2 illustrates an exemplary process performed by the GPWS processor 48 shown in FIGURE 1. First, at a block 90, the landing gear alert altitude value is set based on a bug altitude setting. Next, at a decision block 94, the processor 48 determines if the rotary-wing aircraft 12 is below the set landing gear alert altitude. If not, the process returns to block 92. If the rotary-wing aircraft 12 is below the set landing gear alert altitude, then at a decision block 96, the GPWS processor 48 determines if the landing gear is down and locked, based on a signal from the landing gear position sensor 64. If the landing gear is determined to be down and locked, then no alert condition exists and thus no alert regarding landing gear is outputted. If it is determined at the decision block 96 that the landing gear is not down and locked, then at a block 98, the GPWS processor 48 generates an alert signal regarding landing gear and outputs it to one or more of the output devices (the audio outputs 52, the warning light 54, and/or the display 80).

    [0011] FIGURE 3 illustrates an oil rig platform 124 that includes a helipad 122 that is located some distance above sea level. A helicopter 120 is approaching the helipad 122 (or other platform located on a raised structure) with an altitude over water 128 (or radio altitude). The previous landing gear alert system has landing gear alert altitude equal to 100 feet. In this prior system, a landing gear alert will not be generated before the helicopter 120 is directly over the helipad 122 even if the helicopter 120 has an altitude over water 128 that is only 50 feet above the helipad 122.

    [0012] In this invention a landing gear alert altitude 132 is equal to a bug altitude setting 134 (e.g., 200 feet) plus a predefined default setting 136 (e.g., 100 feet). In this example, the new landing gear alert altitude is 300 feet. Thus, ample warning is given to the pilots of the helicopter 120 if they penetrate a radio altitude of 300 feet and their gear is not in the down and locked position.

    [0013] If the bug altitude setting is set to a lower value during non-landing opeartions, the combination of the bug setting and the predefined default setting will be lower (130), thereby reducing the number of nuisance alerts.

    [0014] This invention may be used with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) or fixed wing aircraft.


    Claims

    1. A method performed on an aircraft, (12) the method comprising:

    at a processor (48) on the aircraft,

    receiving a bug altitude setting, the bug altitude setting comprising an altitude that is set by a pilot of the aircraft;

    generating a landing gear alert altitude value that is equal to the received bug altitude setting plus a predefined additive;

    receiving an altitude value for the aircraft; and

    generating a landing gear alert if the altitude value is less than the landing gear alert altitude value and the landing gear is not in a landing position; and

    at an output device (52, 54, 80),

    outputting the generated landing gear alert.


     
    2. The method of Claim 1, wherein outputting comprises outputting at least one of an audible or visual message.
     
    3. The method of Claim 1, wherein the aircraft is a rotary wing aircraft.
     
    4. The method of Claim 1, wherein the bug altitude setting is a radio bug altitude setting and the received altitude value is a radio altitude setting.
     
    5. The method of Claim 1, wherein the bug altitude setting is a barometric bug altitude setting and the received altitude value is a barometric altitude setting.
     
    6. A system locatable on an aircraft (12), the system comprising:

    a user interface device (68) configured to allow a user to set a bug altitude value;

    a radio altimeter (62) configured to produce an altitude value;

    a processor (48) in signal communication with the user interface device and the radio altimeter, the processor comprising:

    a component configured to receive a bug altitude setting, the bug altitude setting set by the user;

    a component configured to generate a landing gear alert altitude value that is equal to the received bug altitude setting plus a predefined additive;

    a component configured to receive an altitude value for the aircraft; and

    a component configured to generate a landing gear alert if the altitude value is less than the landing gear alert altitude value and the landing gear is not in a landing position; and

    an output device (52, 54, 80) in signal communication with the processor, the output device configured to output the generated landing gear alert.


     
    7. The system of Claim 6, wherein the output device is an audio device.
     
    8. The system of Claim 6, wherein the output device is a video device.
     
    9. The system of Claim 6, wherein the aircraft is a rotary wing aircraft.
     
    10. The system of Claim 6, wherein the bug altitude setting is a radio bug altitude setting and the received altitude value is a radio altitude setting or the bug altitude setting is a barometric bug altitude setting and the received altitude value is a barometric altitude setting.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren, das bei einem Luftfahrzeug (12) ausgeführt wird, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

    in einem Prozessor (48) in dem Luftfahrzeug

    Empfangen einer Merker-Höheneinstellung, wobei die Merker-Höheneinstellung eine Höhe umfasst, die von einem Piloten des Luftfahrzeugs eingestellt wird;

    Erzeugen eines Fahrwerkalarm-Höhenwerts, der gleich der empfangenen Merker-Höheneinstellung plus einem vordefinierten Aufschlag ist;

    Empfangen eines Höhenwerts für das Luftfahrzeug; und

    Erzeugen eines Fahrwerkalarms, wenn der Höhenwert kleiner als der Fahrwerkalarm-Höhenwert ist und das Fahrwerk nicht in einer Landeposition ist; und

    in einer Ausgabevorrichtung (52, 54, 80) Ausgeben des erzeugten Fahrwerkalarms.


     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Ausgeben mindestens ein Ausgeben einer hörbaren oder sichtbaren Nachricht umfasst.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Luftfahrzeug ein Drehflügelflugzeug ist.
     
    4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Merker-Höheneinstellung eine Funk-Merker-Höheneinstellung ist und der empfangene Höhenwert eine Funk-Höheneinstellung ist.
     
    5. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Merker-Höheneinstellung eine barometrische Merker-Höheneinstellung ist und der empfangene Höhenwert eine barometrische Höheneinstellung ist.
     
    6. System, das an einem Luftfahrzeug (12) angeordnet sein kann, wobei das System Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Bedienerschnittstellenvorrichtung (68), die dazu ausgelegt ist, einem Bediener zu ermöglichen, einen Merker-Höhenwert festzulegen;

    einen Funkhöhenmesser (62), der dazu ausgelegt ist, einen Höhenwert zu erzeugen;

    einen Prozessor (48) in Signalkommunikation mit der Bedienerschnittstellenvorrichtung und dem Funkhöhenmesser, wobei der Prozessor Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Komponente, die dazu ausgelegt ist, eine Merker-Höheneinstellung zu empfangen, wobei die Merker-Höheneinstellung von dem Bediener festgelegt wird;

    eine Komponente, die dazu ausgelegt ist, einen Fahrwerkalarm-Höhenwert, der gleich der empfangenen Merker-Höheneinstellung plus einem vordefinierten Aufschlag ist, zu erzeugen;

    eine Komponente, die dazu ausgelegt ist, einen Höhenwert für das Luftfahrzeug zu empfangen; und

    eine Komponente, die dazu ausgelegt ist, einen Fahrwerkalarm zu erzeugen, wenn der Höhenwert kleiner als der Fahrwerkalarm-Höhenwert ist und das Fahrwerk nicht in einer Landeposition ist; und

    eine Ausgabevorrichtung (52, 54, 80) in Signalkommunikation mit dem Prozessor,

    wobei die Ausgabevorrichtung dazu ausgelegt ist, den erzeugten Fahrwerkalarm auszugeben.
     
    7. System nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Ausgabevorrichtung eine Audiovorrichtung ist.
     
    8. System nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Ausgabevorrichtung eine Videovorrichtung ist.
     
    9. System nach Anspruch 6, wobei das Luftfahrzeug ein Drehflügelflugzeug ist.
     
    10. System nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Merker-Höheneinstellung eine Funk-Merker-Höheneinstellung ist und der empfangene Höhenwert eine Funk-Höheneinstellung ist oder wobei die Merker-Höheneinstellung eine barometrische Merker-Höheneinstellung ist und der empfangene Höhenwert eine barometrische Höheneinstellung ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé mis en oeuvre à bord d'un aéronef (12), le procédé comprenant :

    au niveau d'un processeur (48) à bord de l'aéronef,

    la réception d'un réglage d'altitude de curseur, le réglage d'altitude de curseur comprenant une altitude qui est réglée par un pilote de l'aéronef ;

    la génération d'une valeur d'altitude d'alerte de train d'atterrissage qui est égale au réglage d'altitude de curseur reçu majoré d'une valeur ajoutée prédéfinie ;

    la réception d'une valeur d'altitude pour l'aéronef ; et

    la génération d'une alerte de train d'atterrissage si la valeur d'altitude est inférieure à la valeur d'altitude d'alerte de train d'atterrissage et le train d'atterrissage ne se trouve pas dans une position d'atterrissage ; et

    au niveau d'un dispositif de sortie (52, 54, 80),

    la sortie de l'alerte de train d'atterrissage générée.


     
    2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la sortie comprend la sortie d'un message audible et/ou visuel.
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'aéronef est un aéronef à voilure tournante.
     
    4. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le réglage d'altitude de curseur est un réglage de hauteur radioaltimétrique de curseur et la valeur d'altitude reçue est un réglage de hauteur radioaltimétrique.
     
    5. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le réglage d'altitude de curseur est un réglage d'altitude barométrique de curseur et la valeur d'altitude reçue est un réglage d'altitude barométrique.
     
    6. Système susceptible d'être installé à bord d'un aéronef (12), le système comprenant :

    un dispositif d'interface utilisateur (68) configuré pour permettre à un utilisateur de régler une valeur d'altitude de curseur ;

    un radioaltimètre (62) configuré pour produire une valeur d'altitude ;

    un processeur (48) en communication par signaux avec le dispositif d'interface utilisateur et le radioaltimètre, le processeur comprenant :

    un composant configuré pour recevoir un réglage d'altitude de curseur, le réglage d'altitude de curseur étant réglé par l'utilisateur ;

    un composant configuré pour générer une valeur d'altitude d'alerte de train d'atterrissage qui est égale au réglage d'altitude de curseur reçu majoré d'une valeur ajoutée prédéfinie ;

    un composant configuré pour recevoir une valeur d'altitude pour l'aéronef ; et

    un composant configuré pour générer une alerte de train d'atterrissage si la valeur d'altitude est inférieure à la valeur d'altitude d'alerte de train d'atterrissage et le train d'atterrissage ne se trouve pas dans une position d'atterrissage ; et

    un dispositif de sortie (52, 54, 80) en communication par signaux avec le processeur,

    le dispositif de sortie étant configuré pour sortir l'alerte de train d'atterrissage générée.


     
    7. Système selon la revendication 6, dans lequel le dispositif de sortie est un dispositif audio.
     
    8. Système selon la revendication 6, dans lequel le dispositif de sortie est un dispositif vidéo.
     
    9. Système selon la revendication 6, dans lequel l'aéronef est un aéronef à voilure tournante.
     
    10. Système selon la revendication 6, dans lequel le réglage d'altitude de curseur est un réglage de hauteur radioaltimétrique de curseur et la valeur d'altitude reçue est un réglage de hauteur radioaltimétrique, ou le réglage d'altitude de curseur est un réglage d'altitude barométrique de curseur et la valeur d'altitude reçue est un réglage d'altitude barométrique.
     




    Drawing












    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description