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Glance toward the sky over Washington’s Puget Sound and you might catch a glimpse of the world’s most advanced commercial airplane, the Boeing Technology Demonstrator. The avionics in this one-of-a-kind 737-900 promise to reduce noise pollution, increase airspace capacity, and improve the pilot’s ability to keep passengers safe. Here’s a peek at the aircraft’s high-tech flight deck.

1. Quiet Climb System

Automatically controls engine thrust during takeoff, eliminating the need for the pilot to adjust it manually. This translates into less noise in sensitive areas around airports.
Status: Available in many 737s

2. Vertical Situation Display

Provides a side view of the airplane’s position and flight path relative to the ground, instead of the current bird’s-eye view, further reducing the chance of “controlled collision with terrain.”
Status: Available on the 737 this fall

3. Integrated Approach Navigation

Combines the current 18 landing procedures into one standard approach, reducing pilot workload and training.
Status: Available on the 737 this fall

4. Navigation Performance Scales

Up-down and left-right scales show the plane’s vertical and horizontal deviation from the flight path, helping the pilot navigate more precisely. This, in turn, shrinks the bubble required around each airplane, increasing airspace capacity and opening up previously inaccessible airports.
Status: Available on the 737 this fall

5. Surface Guidance System

Displays a virtual taxi path on the head-up display to help pilots navigate on the ground through unfamiliar airports or in poor visibility. This system would bring much-needed automation to airport ground control, potentially reducing runway and taxiway accidents.
Status: Still in development

6. GPS Landing System

Pilots use GPS navigation en route, but it hasn’t been accurate enough for precision landings until now. This system combines data from GPS satellites and local ground stations to pinpoint the plane’s position to within mere feet, eliminating the need for runway transmitters.
Status: Still in development

7. Head-Up Display

Overlays flight data-airspeed, attitude, altitude, flight path-onto a transparent piece of glass at the pilot’s eye level, enabling operation in conditions that would otherwise ground the plane.
Status: Already in the air

8. Synthetic Vision

Integrates aircraft position, heading, altitude, and attitude with an onboard terrain database to produce computer-generated images of the terrain ahead. Viewed on the head-down display, the system could generate a “pathway in the sky.”
Status: Still in development

9. Enhanced Vision

Infrared sensors detect temperature differences in the aircraft’s surroundings during poor visibility, creating a thermal video for the head-up or head-down display.
Status: Still in development

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