CloudAhoy is used by pilots to review and analyze their flights after landing.

Flying, and learning to fly, is an intense and complicated activity; thing happen quickly, and the pilot is required to multitask: fly the plane, talk on the radio, navigate, correct for the wind, and more. When flying in clouds (“in the soup,” by pilots’ jargon) a pilot needs to keep scanning the instruments to stay on the desired course. During training a student also has to listen to the flight instructor and act accordingly. It is literally impossible for a pilot to capture and remember everything that happened in the cockpit. The cockpit is far from being an ideal classroom.

After landing, CloudAhoy comes into the picture. The GPS locations are transferred to the CloudAhoy server and are combined with additional aero information. All the data is processed by the CloudAhoy engine, and the pilot, whether student, flight instructor, or experienced pilot, can review the flight in detail. Pilots log into their CloudAhoy account and the debrief begins.

The flight can be visualized statically over 2D or 3D maps, or dynamically by a motion visualization that displays a synthetic view from the cockpit. In 3D visualization it is possible to choose and change the point-of-view (POV) - for example, to look to the right at a mountain ridge. It is also possible to add a glass gauges overlay on the 3D visualization, which includes airspeed, altitude, etc., and reflects conditions during the flight. A video taken during the flight can be attached and synchronized, too; playing the video (including the radio communication) side-by-side with the synthetic motion by Cesium is a powerful way to relive the flight. It is even possible to share the flight via link with flying buddies, with student or instructor, or on social media.

Pilots are in a constant state of improving, getting better and safer - whether it’s self improvement or during training. Our current users are mostly private pilots, a.k.a. general aviation - including pilots of airplanes, helicopters, gliders, and more. The 3D visualization is extremely useful for a variety of debrief scenarios: reviewing landing, traffic patterns, and specific maneuvers such as steep turns, and visualizing the precision and safety parameters of instrument approach. Of course there is the fun part - watching the “synthetic movie” of the flight - often in a beautiful terrain.

We are using Cesium for CloudAhoy 3D visualization. We previously used the Google Earth plugin, and we started to look into Cesium after the announcement that the Google Earth plugin is being deprecated. We then realized that actually it was all for the better, since there are additional significant advantages to using Cesium. First, Cesium eliminates the need to install a plugin, which has been a huge hurdle for many of our users. Second, it also runs on iPad! The iPad is prolific in the aviation industry, and many of our users have iPads for their flight maps and charts; they used it also for debrief with CloudAhoy immediately after landing. Those users were limited to visualizing their flight in 2D only until we started to use Cesium.

Stall maneuver in primary flight training.

The main view shows only the selected maneuver in 3D using Cesium. The view on the right shows the entire flight. The left panel contains debriefing tools, and it displays the altitude and airspeed profiles of the stall maneuver.

Stall maneuver in primary flight training

Debriefing instrument flight conducted in “the soup” (in a cloud), using video.

The main window shows a top view of a published instrument approach, in magenta and white, which is what the pilot needs to fly. The actual flight, in blue and purple, deviated from the published approach. A video view runs in a complete sync with the rest of the system. Below is CloudAhoy’s synthesized 3D cockpit view, using Cesium, displaying what the pilot would have seen if the day were clear. Both the video and the synthesized cockpit have HUD overlay, displaying flight parameters.

Debriefing instrument flight conducted in "the soup" (in a cloud), using video

This fun mountain flight landed at Sulphur Creek, ID.

The main window uses Cesium to display the 3D flight path into Sulphur Creek, and two other views show a topographic map of the area and an aviation chart (“sectional”) with the flight path.

This fun mountain flight landed at Sulphur Creek, ID

Debriefing a test flight of a WWII T-6G Texan.

The original WWII plane was meticulously restored, and CloudAhoy was used to debrief its test flights, measuring its flight parameters and analyzing the flights. A helmet-mounted camera was used to capture video, which was embedded in CloudAhoy’s debrief.

Debriefing a test flight of a WWII T-6G Texan

Airline pilots use CloudAhoy to debrief commercial flights.

This picture shows the descent into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport using the visual approach, following the Potomac River. Cesium is used to display the flight’s 3D track and synthesized cockpit view.

Airline pilots use CloudAhoy to debrief commercial flights

Last updated: Aug 06, 2015

Do you want to collaborate or partner with the Cesium team? Contact Tim Rivenbark, Cesium's Business Development Director.