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         A Pioneer in Aircraft Video Camera Systems
                                                                             B Y      G E O R G E            L .        L E W I S O N

         ne of the earliest pioneers in

O        aircraft video camera systems
         was Joe Brunner, who found-
ed Aerial View Systems in 1987. In the
beginning it appeared the simplest
way to install a video camera on the
aircraft would be to stay in the pres-
surized areas of the aircraft and not
face the problem of penetrating the
pressure bulkheads. In addition, exter-
nal installations would call for air-
frame modifications that would com-
                                            This view was taken with an AVS-470 mounted on the bottom of the fuselage and approaching St.
plicate the obtaining of an STC. As a       Maarten in the Caribbean.
result his first two aircraft video cam-
era systems were designed to be
installed inside the pressurized area.
   Brunner has been associated with
aviation essentially his entire life. His
father was a flight engineer with
American Airlines for 30 years and
had been flying on aircraft from the
Douglas DC-6 to the Boeing 747.
Brunner learned to fly while attending
Loyola University in Los Angeles.
When he graduated, he received an
ROTC Commission and subsequently
served six years in the United States
Air Force. He became a captain and
flew F4 Phantom aircraft. After his
time in the Air Force was up, he joined
Global Navigation and became a man-         This video frame was taken when the aircraft was flying over the airport.
ager of corporate and general aviation
sales. After five years, Brunner joined     installed a video camera in the cockpit            the cockpit was very dark. Even
Dassault Falcon Jet as their western        that allowed passengers to see a por-              though the overall picture was rather
regional sales manager. He enjoyed          tion of the terrain ahead of the aircraft.         poor, Brunner noticed that the passen-
that job very much but eventually           On these aircraft, using a wide angle              gers were extremely interested in the
made the decision to go into business       lens, only 1/3 of the picture was out-             in flight video pictures.
for himself.                                side of the aircraft and the rest was in              Due to this interest, Brunner devel-
   Brunner became really interested in      the cockpit. The outside picture was               oped a high quality video camera sys-
video camera systems on aircraft when       very bright and washed out and the                 tem for both corporate and general
American Airlines, for a time, had          portion of the picture that was inside             aviation aircraft. As a result, in 1985

he left Dassault Falcon Jet and found-     video camera system, he added a tilt               was on a Gulfstream II aircraft that
ed his own company. He initially           mechanism to the camera so it could                was being modified at the Jet Center in
selected the name AirVision but subse-     be used through all the flight regimes             Van Nuys, Calif. The installation was
quently found that AirVision was a         from airborne to ground operation.                 successful and the video camera sys-
company name that had already been         With this early modification to his                tem operated as advertised. After this
taken. As a result, he changed the         video camera system, he was able to                first installation, Aerial View Systems
name to Aerial View Systems (AVS),         provide his first customers with a                 video cameras were installed on many
and has operated under that name ever      video camera that gave the occupant in             different types of aircraft. In 1990,
since. From the start, Aerial View         the cabin a view of the terrain ahead of           Gulfstream Aerospace became the first
Systems has been an innovator contin-      the aircraft just as the crew would see            OEM to install an Aerial View
ually adding features to their camera      from the cockpit. This change, no                  Systems video camera system. Almost
systems such as auto-tilt, auto-zoom,      doubt, was an important factor to con-             immediately after that first OEM
auto flip and map trac. Two patents are    tributing to the success of his first              installation, Dassault’s Falcon Jet
now pending for AVS’s external envi-       installations.                                     company installed an AVS Camera on
ronmental enclosures and the map trac         It should be noted that Aerial View             their Falcon 900 Demonstrator air-
feature.                                   Systems has remained a small compa-                craft. The future of AVS was virtually
   In order to provide for the initial     ny since its inception. It is a tribute to         assured at that time.
installations, he began to look for        our industry that a small company fur-                                Continued on following page
areas on the aircraft that would not       nishing high quality equipment can
require penetration of the pressure        remain viable in this industry without
bulkheads. He soon realized if the         being gobbled up by some mega-giant.
camera itself was small enough it          In addition, as later will be seen, their
could be mounted on the cockpit            penetration of the aviation market has
glareshield panel and look directly        been extremely good despite the small
through the cockpit windshield just as     operating staff. In fact, many compa-
the crew of the aircraft do to fly the     nies offering aircraft video cameras
plane. There were cameras that were        have gone out of business but Aerial
available that fit the requirement. His    View Systems with emphasis on qual-
first test of a video camera system on     ity and product support is still going
an aircraft was on a Boeing 727 air-       strong.
                                                                                              The AVS-420-ZX installed in the glareshield
craft that was being operated by              The first permanent installation of             area but utilizing auto zoom in order to main -
Airesearch Aviation Co.                    Aerial View Systems video camera                   tain camera angle.
   In order to provide for the camera to
see the area that was ahead of the air-
craft, the camera was mounted tilted
down so the terrain in front of the air-
craft could be seen. Brunner found on
this first flight his video camera sys-
tem functioned fine in the air, howev-
er upon landing, the only thing that
could be seen was the concrete of the
runway and nothing ahead of the air-
craft. He then realized in order to pro-
vide his customers with a system that
worked during the whole flight
                                           The AVS-470 was their first video camera           This view was taken by the AVS-470 installed
regime, there would have to be a tilt      designed to install on the exterior of the air -   in the forward portion of the vertical stabilizer
system added to the camera.                craft. It was available with different lenses      of a corporate jet aircraft.
   As a result of this first test of his   depending upon the application.

                                                                                                  AVIONICS NEWS • NOVEMBER 2002             27
AERIAL VIEW SYSTEMS                             height of 2 inches including the tilt       decent. In those aircraft requiring dif-
Continued from page 27                          servo unit itself. The camera is 4.5        ferent camera tilt angles, custom set-
                                                inches long including the connector,        tings can be provided to meet the indi-
                                                and the width of the servo unit with        vidual requirement.
                                                the camera mounted is 1.8 inches. The           The AVS-460 model of Aerial View
                                                total weight of this assembly is 6          System’s video camera system has
                                                ounces including the camera head,           been installed on many different type
                                                lens and servo assembly. The camera         of aircraft and is still available today
                                                remote control unit is 4.4 inches wide      for new installations. In addition to the
                                                by 3.3 inches high by 6.2 inches long.      AVS-460, Aerial View Systems has
                                                It weighs 32 ounces. The entire system      produced another camera system
                                                operates on 28 volts DC. The AVS-460        designed for installation on the cockpit
                                                video camera system can simultane-          glareshield of the aircraft. The AVS-
                                                ously furnish output in NTSC, S-VHS         420-ZX was designed to also install in
                                                and RGB format.                             the same area as the AVS-460 inside of
                                                   On most aircraft where this camera       the aircraft, however a different con-
                                                system is in use, the camera head is        cept has been used with this camera in
The crew can inspect the main landing gear      recessed into the cockpit glare shield      order to provide visibility of the out-
condition by utilizing a bottom mounted cam -
era with the display on their CDU in the        panel. It is generally mounted with the     side terrain.
cockpit.                                        camera head between 15 to 20 degrees            The Aerial View Systems AVS-420-
                                                nose down to provide the camera with        ZX aircraft video camera system is
   The first camera utilized was desig-         a proper angle to view the terrain          unique in that while it does not have a
nated as an AVS-300, however the ini-           ahead of the aircraft when in flight. A     tilt mechanism, it does have a 24X1
tial camera was replaced very quickly           servo unit in the camera head automat-      stabilized zoom system that allows it
with one that was a better operating            ically adjusts the camera head to three     to produce images of the terrain by
unit for aviation purposes and was              different viewing positions for taxi,       varying the angle of zoom. The auto
given the designation AVS-460. This             take off and approach.                      zoom feature automatically changes
aviation camera is still being produced            On the ground, the camera receives       the field of view for taxi, take off and
today along with additional models              a control function from the aircraft        approach. In addition, with this cam-
that were designed for different pur-           squat switch and rotates the camera to      era the passengers can remotely adjust
poses and for mounting in different             a slightly up position for taxi opera-      the zoom to view whatever portion of
areas.                                          tions. In flight, take off and approach     the terrain outside the aircraft they
   The AVS-460 auto-tilt camera is              camera angles are selected automati-        would like to see.
composed of the AVS460-24-28T-                  cally by the camera system sensing the          When the aircraft is on the ground,
CCU camera control unit and the                 aircraft attitude in degrees of ascent or   the camera receives a signal from the
AVS460-24-28T-CH camera head                                                                squat switch that selects the taxi posi-
unit. In addition to these major com-                                                       tion, which is wide angle. At take off
ponents, there is also a complete com-                                                      and a deck angle of 12 degrees or
plement of mounting racks, trays, gus-                                                      more, the camera auto zooms to a 1/3
sets, cables, connectors and a servo                                                        magnification. At level off and when
programmer. The camera control unit                                                         the deck angle decreases to less than 8
does not have to be accessible for most                                                     degrees, the camera auto zooms to a
normal operations and remains “On”                                                          2/3 magnification for cruise. At touch
to be selected by the passengers                                                            down, the camera returns to full wide
remotely for viewing. The 28 volt                                                           angle. Again, during take off and on
power DC supplied to this camera sys-                                                       the ground, the camera returns to wide
tem normally should be controlled by                                                        angle. At any time, the passengers can
the radio master switch on the aircraft.                                                    remotely zoom the camera. Whenever
   The AVS-460 camera which is                                                              remote zoom is activated, the camera
                                                The new Dome Camera, the AVS-480, with
mounted on the tilt servo has a total           almost unlimited capability.                                      Continued on page 30

AERIAL VIEW SYSTEMS                         nose of the aircraft to satisfy the      Aerial View Systems introduced an
Continued from page 28                      required sensing function.               improved version of the AVS-420-ZX
will reset to telephoto position and           The AVS-420-ZX camera head            video camera system. The overall
refocus, and then the zoom will             which is mounted in the glareshield      dimensions are smaller making it more
become operational.                         area is 2.25 inches wide by 2.25 inch-   suitable for glareshield installations—
   The AVS-420-ZX is normally               es high by 5.0 inches long. It has a     the optical zoom is greater and addi-
recessed into the cockpit glareshield       weight of 16 ounces. It mounts on a      tional digital zoom has been added. In
and mounted approximately 5 degrees         mounting plate that is 6.0 inches long   addition, the improved version has
nose down to provide the camera with        in order to accommodate a cam lock       better stabilization. However, the
an approach landing view of the run-        for fasting the camera assembly. The     biggest advantage is the smaller size
way. With proper installation of the        remotely mounted camera control          as in glareshield installations every
camera head, the runway will stay in        unit, which is designated AVS-420-       fraction of an inch that is smaller aids
the center of the video presentation        ZX-28-CCU, is 2.6 inches in depth by     in the installation.
throughout the approach. Too steep an       4.75 inches in length by 2.1 inches in      The development by Aerial View
approach angle or too shallow an            height. It weighs 12 ounces and is       Systems of the AVS-470 SuperVision
approach angle will nullify this track-     powered by 28 volts DC. In addition      Aircraft Video Camera System
ing. Again, similar to the tilt action of   to these major components, the AVS-      launched a whole new era of camera
the AVS-460, the auto zoom of the           420-ZX video camera system comes         locations for AVS as the AVS-470 was
AVS-420-ZX is selected automatically        with a complete complement of            designed for external location on the
by the camera control unit. The cam-        mounting plates and cables and con-      airframe. The camera and lens was
era control unit must be mounted level      nectors.                                 small enough so that a streamline fair-
on the aircraft with its axis facing the       At the 2002 NBAA Convention,                               Continued on page 42

AERIALVIEW SYSTEMS                          the camera assembly is approximately         to display an image of the runway
Continued from page 30                      5 ounces. AVS has a patent pending           ahead of the aircraft in the cockpit
ing could contain the entire assembly       for this particular type of camera           making it easier for the crew to keep
on the external fuselage of the air-        installation.                                the aircraft properly aligned on very
craft. It was now also possible to pick        The camera control unit for the           narrow taxi ways. This location is
many different external locations for       AVS-470, designated as Part Number           very productive to provide valuable
the camera that would allow it to per-      AVS470-7.5-28AF-CCU, is 4.4 inches           information to the crew in the cockpit.
form additional functions such as           wide by 3.3 inches high by 6.2 inches        With this type of mount, when the air-
observation of the landing gear, the        deep. It weighs 32 ounces and installs       craft is airborne and the gear retracted,
tires, brakes, thrust reversers, on the     in the pressurized area of the aircraft.     the camera can provide a view of the
nose gear, or looking through the           This unit also operates on 28 volts DC       terrain immediately below the aircraft.
fuselage to the outside. The AVS-470        and can provide composite video,                A new Aerial View Systems
camera looks through a “heated sap-         super S-VHS video and RGB video              SuperVision dome camera, the AVS-
phire window” on the external enclo-        output. As with the other AVS Camera         480, is about to come on the market.
sure that mounts it on the airframe.        Systems, the AVS-470 SuperVision             This video camera system will be by
   There are numerous different appli-      Video Camera System comes with a             far the most advanced video camera
cations that are able to utilize this new   full complement of cables, mounting          system that has ever been made avail-
video camera system. It was installed       brackets and miscellaneous hardware.         able for corporate and general aviation
on the leading edge of the vertical tail       Some of the applications for this         aircraft. The camera itself is encased
assembly on some aircraft, in the           camera system are pilot orientated and       in a transparent rotating dome assem-
front of the radome on top of the tail      as such contribute to the safety of the      bly that is designed to install on the
assembly on other aircraft, on the bot-     aircraft. In order to provide a view for     bottom of the fuselage of the aircraft.
tom of the fuselage on some installa-       the aircraft crew, this camera has been      This video camera will be capable of
tions and even through the nose wheel       designed to provide a video picture in       full 360 degree horizontal rotation
door assembly for some installations.       the cockpit on some flight manage-           along with the ability to Pan and Tilt.
The cameras were now not just               ment systems control display units,          In addition, it has available a 200X
installed for passenger enjoyment but       such as the Universal UNS-1C and             zoom capability. Its sensitivity is 1.0
also for airborne inspection of the         certain other flight management com-         lux for color and .06 lux for black and
external parts of the aircraft which        puters made by Honeywell.                    white. As a result, it is capable of oper-
added a safety factor that had not been        For example, the 4 mm wide angle          ating in extreme low light conditions.
available before.                           camera installed at the top of the verti-    In addition, this camera will provide
   Because of the many different loca-      cal tail assembly looking forward can        480 lines of resolution, making it one
tions and purposes which are served         provide an excellent panoramic view          of the highest resolution cameras
by the AVS-470 SuperVision Camera           of the aircraft, the sky and the terrain     available for this type of installation.
System, a series of lenses are avail-       ahead of the aircraft. For the crew, it         In the cabin, this camera can be con-
able for use in this camera depending       will also display the status of the thrust   trolled in many different ways that
upon the application. There is a 24         reversers, the engine, flaps and slats,      will allow the passengers to rotate the
mm F 3.1 telephoto lens, a 15 mm F          ailerons and spoilers can all be             camera, zoom in and out, and track
2.0 standard lens, a 7.5 mm F 1.5           viewed. In addition, a 7.5 mm camera         points of interest as desired. In addi-
wide angle lens and a 4.0 mm F 2.0          installed in one of the outboard             tion, the company logo may be dis-
wide angle lens. The camera head is         winglets can assist the pilot to taxi the    played on the cabin screen as well as
extremely small so that it can fit into     aircraft by giving him another view of       flight briefing information and display
the external fairing enclosure. The         the tarmac ahead. Also this same 7.5         of flight data such as altitude, temper-
camera head itself is 2.5 inches long       mm camera installed in the nose gear         ature, true air speed, ground speed,
by 1.0 inch high and deep. In order to      area can allow the pilots to observe the     distance to go, time to destination and
be flexible for installation in various     landing gear, tires, brakes and many         arrival time. For the crew, this cam-
locations, the connector may be pro-        other essential items on the bottom of       era can be used for taxi, take off and
vided at the rear of the unit going         the aircraft.                                approach. Maps can be displayed in
straight back or at the rear of the            With one of these cameras installed       the cockpit with a zoom in and zoom
assembly at right angles. Weight of         in the nose gear area, it is also possible   out feature. In addition, when the air-

craft is on the ground the system can be      control buttons are available at the         ber of the aircraft manufacturers have
used as a motion detector that can pro-       bottom of the screen. One of these on        utilized the Aerial View camera sys-
vide a measure of security for the air-       screen control buttons will take them        tems in their demonstrator aircraft. As
craft.                                        to the stored map information. When          of the time this article was written,
   Along with the new AVS-480                 the map appears, there are controls for      Aerial View Systems video cameras
SuperVision Dome Camera, AVS is               selecting points of interest and various     have been installed on 20 OEM demon-
also marketing a new Map Track                other functions all available to the         strator aircraft. In addition, AVS cam-
Computer, the AVS-480-Zl-28MT-                cabin viewers.                               era systems have been installed on 36
CPU, that can provide almost any type            Aerial View Systems has penetrated        different types of aircraft at 50 comple-
of information desired for display in         a really large section of the corporate      tion centers and OEMs around the
the cabin of the aircraft. It is the Aerial   market. This is because corporate            world.
View Systems Map Track Computer               operators are always willing to put the         Installation information on the Aerial
that will allow the occupants of the          best of any type of avionics system on       View Systems video cameras may be
cabin so much freedom of display. In          their aircraft to serve the interests of     obtained on their website, www.aeri-
addition to the outside displays avail-       the corporate VPs as well as their busi- Currently installa-
able from the SuperVision dome cam-           ness associates and guests.                  tion information for the AVS-460 cam-
era, they will be able to display points         In the following paragraph is a par-      era designed for interior installation
of interest on stored maps that will          tial list of aircraft with Aerial View       with a servo tilt mechanism is avail-
delineate the areas over which the air-       Systems video cameras. Since this list       able. Installation information for the
craft is flying. It will also provide air-    is always growing, it can never be up-       the AVS-420-ZX interior installed
craft data such as altitude, temperature,     to-date at any time it is published. This    video camera system with zoom capa-
true air speed, distance to go, time to       penetration of the market is only pos-       bility is also available. In addition,
go and time of arrival.                       sible because of the high quality of the     installation information is also avail-
   The Aerial View Systems AVS-480-           various video camera systems and             able for the AVS-470 SuperVision
Z-28MT-CPU is a specialized Map               associated components as supplied by         external camera. Installation informa-
Track Computer that has been designed         Aerial View Systems and their dedica-        tion on the latest AVS-480 SuperVison
to work with the new AVS-480 Dome             tion to product support once the cam-        external dome camera system may be
Video Camera System. This computer            eras are operating on a customer ’s air-     obtained by contacting Aerial View
will have stored all the custom moving        craft.                                       Systems in Newport Beach, Calif.,
maps, with software for including                Boeing 707 aircraft (3), Boeing 727       (714) 969-2470.
interactive and auto camera tracking of       aircraft (6), Boeing 737 aircraft (11),         Aerial View Systems has traditional-
moving maps, aircraft flight data and         Boeing 757 aircraft (3), Challenger          ly worked with and cooperated with
much more. It also has capability to          600 aircraft (4), Challenger 601 air-        avionics shops large and small as well
operate with a minimum of two touch           craft (23), Challenger 604 aircraft          as OEMs and can provide all the infor-
screen display systems. It will store all     (41), Citation VII aircraft (4), Convair     mation needed for installation of their
the data required for cabin briefing and      580 aircraft ( 2), Falcon 10 aircraft (1),   various video camera systems on many
much more. The AVS-480-Z-28MT-                Falcon 50 aircraft (16), Falcon 900          types of aircraft. Aerial View Systems
CPU has 512 MB of storage and fea-            aircraft (57), Falcon 2000 aircraft (21),    product support is unique in the indus-
tures capability to interface with air-       Gulfstream II aircraft (7), Gulfstream       try. They want to be sure the customer
craft ARINC 429 databus.                      III aircraft (9), Gulfstream IV aircraft     has a good operating video camera sys-
   The AVS-480 SuperVision dome               (58), Gulfstream IVSP aircraft (27),         tem. As a result, even the OEMs come
camera also gives the occupants of the        Gulfstream V aircraft (24), Global           back for return business as they know
cabin tremendous freedom of action in         Express (5), HS-400 aircraft (1), HS-        they can rely on Aerial View Systems
utilizing the dome camera. When used          700 aircraft (3), HS-800 aircraft (22),      to support their products. For those
with a touch screen display, the outside      HS-1000 aircraft (3), KA-200 Aircraft        avionics shops that have not as yet been
scene will appear in a major portion of       (1) KA-350 aircraft (2), Lear 35 air-        involved in airborne video camera
the upper left part of the screen with        craft (2), Lear 55 aircraft (1), MD-80       installations, a call to Aerial View
camera slewing controls on the right          aircraft (1) Pilatus aircraft (1), and       Systems could turn out to be quite pro-
hand side along with zoom in and              Sabre 65 aircraft (1).                       ductive and create the opportunity for a
zoom out controls. In addition, more             In addition to these aircraft, a num-     new revenue source. u

                                                                                             AVIONICS NEWS • NOVEMBER 2002      43

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