C. Donald Bateman, Honeywell
Honeywell engineer C. Donald Bateman invented the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) and the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (E-GPWS), technologies that help prevent Controlled Flight Into Terrain accidents (CFIT).
CFIT accidents have no mechanical malfunction as their cause. Instead, in these accidents, pilots have the aircraft in their own control when it is inadvertently flown into terrain or water. Bateman began his initial work on GPWS in the late 1960s. GPWS relied on altitude readings from the aircraft’s radio altimeter to determine if terrain threats were imminent, sounding alarms in the cockpit of they were. In 1974, the FAA mandated that all large jet aircraft have GPWS in stalled, and CFIT accidents dramatically reduced.
Bateman’s E-GPWS was introduced in 1996. In this system, a moving display in the cockpit provides the crew with a picture of all terrain in the vicinity surrounding the aircraft, including the highest and lowest points. When the system detects impending terrain, voice and audible warnings sound, in addition to visual alerts on the display itself. More advance notice is given to the crew about the impending terrain, allowing minutes to take corrective action rather than seconds.
Many other flight safety systems can be attributed to Bateman. He is responsible for a wind shear detection system, allowing pilots the time to take appropriate actions. This system was mandated by the FAA on all commercial aircraft by 1993. Bateman is working on improving his Runway Aural Awareness System to reduce the risk of runway incursions or overruns. Additional innovations involve heads up display systems, speed control/auto throttle systems, stall warning systems, angle of attack systems, automatic flight control system, weight and balance systems, radar and others.
Born in Canada, Bateman is a U.S. Citizen. Educated at the University of Saskatchewan, he has been with Honeywell and its predecessors since 1960. He continues to actively work within the aviation industry on a variety of flight safety systems. (Photo from White House ceremony courtesy of Ryan K. Morris/National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.)