Archer Z-150 gives pilots “a better heads-up”


“The Archer Z-150 is based on our combat-proven system that is already used by a number of air forces around the world,” says Ben Ash, Executive Business Development Manager of CZO. “It is a cost-effective solution because it can be configured to fit onto most standard helmets worn by pilots and aircrew.”

South Africa pioneered the research and development of Helmet Mounted Display Systems (HMDS) in the 1970s and the SA Air Force was the first to fly the helmet- mounted sights operationally.

On HMDS systems, all flight and mission data can be projected on the helmet-mounted display. The system follows the head movements of the pilot providing him with the ability to react and make mission-critical decisions within a fraction of a second.

In addition, information on the aircraft’s performance – such as airspeed and altitude – is also displayed, enabling the pilot to keep his head up and eliminating the need to look around in the cockpit.

CZO has been leading the world in new product development and innovations in this field over the past three decades. CZO is part of Carl Zeiss Optronics, the Security and Defence division of the Carl Zeiss Group, global leaders in the manufacturing of optronics, optical and precision engineering products for military and civilian applications.

Ash says the LIMA 2011 exhibition is an important platform for CZO to demonstrate the quality of its products to existing and potential clients in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Over the past 22 years LIMA has grown into one of the world’s premier aerospace exhibitions, bringing together key decision-makers in both the defence and civilian sectors,” he says.

Helmet-Mounted Display Systems are increasingly being used in non-military environments, says Frans Vermaak, responsible for the marketing and sales of airborne systems at CZO. This includes search-and-rescue operations, coastal patrols, fire fighting and the monitoring of high voltage electricity networks.

Archer Z-150 consists of two subsystems – a helmet-mounted display (HMD) and optical head tracking system (OHTS) configured to fit onto standard aircrew helmets. The entire system only adds approximately 600 gram to the weight of the helmet.

The OHTS used in Archer Z-150 have been designed and manufactured at CZO’s facilities in South Africa.

Archer Z-150 provides high accuracy, low latency in-flight tracking of helmet orientation and position. This is essential for slaving weapon systems and sensors while displaying stabilised symbols and images on the HMD. Information is relayed to the display within a few milliseconds and inflight accuracies of a few milliradians are achieved.

The Archer Z-150 uses holographic optical waveguide display technology offering exceptional display performance and seamless night vision compatibility.

Vermaak says that cockpit mapping and harmonisation of the HMDS is a one-off exercise and no calibration is required. Depending on the requirements of the client, between one and four miniature sensors are installed in the cockpit together with a processor unit that is integrated with the aircraft’s computer.

Installation and calibration of the HMDS can be completed within two hours. The unique data is stored on the HMDS and units can be replaced on the flight-line without the requirement to re-harmonise the HMDS.