JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has been conducting a research project named SAVERH (Situation
Awareness and Visual Enhancer for Rescue Helicopter) with Shimadzu Corporation and NEC from 2008. SAVERH
aims at inventing a method of presenting suitable information to the pilot to support search and rescue missions. An
integrated system comprising an HMD (Helmet-Mounted Display) and a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) sensor were
installed in a JAXA research helicopter, and a series of flight tests was conducted to evaluate the benefit of presenting
FLIR images on the HMD in night flight. Three pilots evaluated the display system during six night flights, considering
terrain and position awareness. The tests showed that use of FLIR gave better route tracking performance, and the
effectiveness of head-slaved FLIR on an approach task was shown by subjective pilot rating.
A method to enhance the legibility of FLIR (Forward-Looking Infra Red) images was invented and evaluated by flight
test. The method intends to avoid image saturation when a pilot is looking for low temperature objects of interest in an
image dominated by high temperature areas, such as searching for objects on a cooler land area in an image mostly filled
with a warmer sea area. The method utilizes a 2D mask generated from 3D object of interest data, and overlays the raw
image. The effectiveness of the method was evaluated by flight tests in which the processed image was presented on a
HMD (Helmet Mounted Display). The flight tests confirmed the enhanced image legibility brought by the method.
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), together with Shimadzu Corporation and NEC, has initiated a research
project named SAVERH (Situation Awareness and Visual Enhancer for Rescue Helicopter) that aims at inventing
method of presenting suitable pilot information to support helicopter search and rescue missions. As the initial stage of
this research, a series of flight experiments was conducted to investigate the feasibility of operations enhanced by an
E/SVS (Enhanced / Synthetic Vision System) and to clarify system issues. An integrated system comprising an HMD
(Helmet Mounted Display) and a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) sensor were installed in a JAXA research helicopter,
and Tunnel-in-the-Sky symbology and a Synthetic Terrain image combined with the FLIR image were presented on the
HMD and/or on a Head Down Display (HDD). Through a total of 17 flights including night flights, the potential
capability of the system was demonstrated while many issues for further investigation were identified.