The European Patent Office granted a software patent on a method of representing missed approach information in perspective view on a cockpit display. Here are the practical takeaways of the decision T 0013/18 of 12.4.2019 of Technical Board of Appeal 3.2.01:
This European patent application relates to a method for displaying information on a display device of an aircraft. The method comprises determining graphics data for visual aids that represent
missed approach data, incorporating the graphics data into a user interface that is in perspective view, and generating the user interface for display on the display device of the aircraft.
Here is how the invention is defined in claim 1 of the main request:
Claim 1 (main request)(a) A method of displaying information on a display device of an aircraft, comprising:
(b) retrieving, by a data retrieval module (22) from an information data store (14), approach data (30) associated with landing the aircraft on a particular runway of a particular airport including a touchdown point, and a decision height for a precision approach or a minimum descent altitude for a non-precision approach;
(c) determining, by a distance determination module (24), using the approach data (30) based on real-time flight data or prescribed flight data at least one of a time and a distance from the touchdown point where the decision height or the minimum descent altitude would be achieved;
(d) retrieving, by a data display module (26), graphics data (37) from a graphics datastore (29) for visual aids;
(e) incorporating the graphics data (37) for the visual aids into a user interface that includes a perspective view of a flight plan, wherein the graphics data is incorporated at a location in the flight plan that is relative to a current location of the aircraft and based on the determined time or distance; and
(f) generating the user interface for display on the display device of the aircraft
Is it technical?
The Board found that claim 1 differs from the closest prior art by the step of “determining, by a distance determination module (24), using the approach data (30) based on real-time flight data or prescribed flight data at least one of a time and a distance from the touchdown point where the decision height or the minimum descent altitude would be achieved” (feature c).
According to the Board, this difference solves the following technical problem:
Determining at least the time or distance from the touchdown point where the decision height or the minimum descent altitude would be achieved will enable the pilot to abort the landing in due time if necessary.
The problem to be solved may be regarded as to increase safety landing.
In view of the prior art at hand, there was no hint for the skilled person to come up with the claimed solution:
D1 (col.8, l.33-45, figure 4) discloses the following: “If the aircraft drops below a predetermined altitude, a shadow 63 of the predictor 31 becomes visible on the screen. The shadow 63 gives the pilot information as to the altitude and the predicted altitude without it being necessary to concentrate on another instrument. In connection with the change in the color of the symbols of the predictor 31 in the region of the lower permissible speed, the pilot can at a glance gather all necessary information shortly prior to touchdown”. The information displayed in D1 enables the pilot to correct the landing.
Thus D1 deals with another problem than the one in the present application. It does not enable the pilot to visualise the decision height or the minimum descent altitude to enable him to take a decision on aborting the landing of the plane. Furthermore there is no incentive for the skilled person to change the information displayed in D1 and to determine the time or distance from touchdown where the decision height or the minimum descent altitude would be achieved.
Therefore, the subject-matter of claim 1 was found to involve an inventive step.
You can read the whole decision here: T 0013/18 of 12.4.2019
Bastian is a European patent attorney and a partner at BARDEHLE PAGENBERG. He specializes in software patents in Europe both from a prosecution and litigation point of view.