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Terrain awareness enhancing avionics, such as Synthetic Vision Systems and the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, have been developed to reduce the number of controlled flight into terrain accidents. The protection these systems offer, however, is far from optimal. Synthetic Vision Systems only provide pilots with perceptual data, and leave all cognition and interpretation of data to the pilot. With Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems the opposite is true. Here, cognition is hidden in the system and pilots are confronted with compelling advisories and commands. This paper presents a display system, the Emergency Landing Guidance System, which visualizes the functional meaning of surrounding terrain, adopting an ecological interface design approach. The potential benefits of this approach are demonstrated with the case of locating and approaching a suitable landing spot in the situation of a sudden complete engine failure. To evaluate the amount of pilot terrain awareness supported by the new display, an experiment was conducted in a fixed-base flight simulator. Results show that the new display supports pilot terrain awareness much better than present terrain avoidance systems, especially regarding awareness involving the higher levels of cognitive processing. Pilots better understand the meaning of the terrain topology in relation to their goals and constraints.