The availability of new technologies for helmet- and head-mounted displays facilitates the design of innovative cockpit layouts like a completely virtual flight deck. After the introduction of the so-called "glass cockpit", where formerly mechanical instruments have been converted digitally onto large panel screens, the virtual flight deck could be the logical next step into the future. Obviously, such a concept will save installation cost of conventional display hardware. Furthermore, and probably of greater importance, stressful and time-consuming accommodation changes for the pilots' eyes between outside- and inside-view can be avoided.
During the last months we have developed a concept for virtual cockpit instrumentation. Our implementation is based onto the JedEye™, a monochrome green, "looking-through" HMD, which offers a resolution of more than HD-TV, good enough to show detailed information as on presently installed head-down instruments. Our approach augments our latest "3D helicopter landing symbol format" with basic virtual instruments (PFD, ND, knee-board) in the near field of the cockpit environment in "no-window" areas. Besides, we have implemented a "drag and drop" mechanism, which enables pilots to arrange instrumentation on their personal preference. Tests in our Generic Cockpit Simulator (GECO) are currently conducted. As first pilots’ feedback show, our concept offers a great potential to be introduced into the future flight deck.