There are no regulations on what color something has to have as far as I know, but of course, a good color usage is a key part of every good and modern avionic.
Maybe you need some terms relevant for you:
- EFIS for Electronic Flight Instrument System That's in general the name instruments that are displayed on a screen instead of steam gauges.
- PFD for Primary Flight Display This is the thing on the picture you posted in your question (From a Boeing by the way). It has all information regarding the planes position in the room and a bit more.
- ND OR MFD for Navigation Display or Multifunctional Display Those displays are usually located next to the PFD and provide the pilots information about the position on a map, a radar and so on.
- EICAS/ECAM for Engine indication and crew alerting system/Electronic centralised aircraft monetoring (system) Those screen are, on small planes integrated into the MFD and on big planes in the middle of the cockpit. They provide the captain with information about the engines and the state of the whole plane.
That's just some terms you can research further on. There are usually thousands of pages about those systems available. Of course also a lot on the color codes.
- is this look (color, fonts, layout) regulated globally or does this vary by airplane type?
It is actually. There are of course differences but only small. Compare a Boeing PFD and an Airbus PFD. They will look the same at the first look. And also in other EFIS like the Garmin G1000.
Some things about color used in the ECAM (Airbus):
- Level 3 Failures: red warnings, situations that require immediate crew action and that place the flight in danger. For example, an engine fire or loss of cabin pressure. They are enunciated with a red master warning light, a warning (red) ECAM message and a continuous repetitive chime or a specific sound or a synthetic voice. The chime can be silenced by pressing the master warning push button.
- Level 2 Failures: amber cautions, failures that require crew attention but not immediate action. For example, air bleed failure or fuel fault. They have no direct consequence to flight safety and are shown to the crew through an amber master caution light, a caution (amber) ECAM message and a single chime.
- Level 1 Failures: Cautions, failures and faults that lead to a loss of system redundancy, they require monitoring but present no hazard. Examples include the loss of DMC3 when not in use. Level 1 failures are enunciated by a caution (amber) ECAM message only (no aural warning).
Or about the EFIS:
Traditional instruments have long used color, but lack the ability to change a color to indicate some change in condition. The electronic display technology of EFIS has no such restriction and uses color widely. For example, as an aircraft approaches the glide slope, a blue caption can indicate glide slope is armed, and capture might change the color to green. Typical EFIS systems color code the navigation needles to reflect the type of navigation. Green needles indicate ground based navigation, such as VORs, Localizers and ILS systems. Magenta needles indicate GPS navigation.
That means you are free to use any color you want, but of course it's good practice to use the standards. And as graphics designer, I'm sure you know the mean of the different colors.
- RED (Often flashing) Warning - Immediate action required
- ORANGE/Yellow (Amber often used in aviation) Attention - No immediate action required
- GREEN Success
- BLUE Information
This is the way normal people in everyday-applications are used to understand color. In avionics, this is similar, however some colors are indeed used consistent across the industry and are reserved for specific events. More below:
Analyzing a PFD (Boeing type)
Source, Added squares
I found this Boeing PFD with like everything displayed that can be displayed on a PFD. This shows the color codes used perfectly. I marked all different elements in a specific color:
MAGENTA The color used for an aim, the aircraft has to reach. For example the speed on top of the speed-strip at the left, the selected altitude at the right or the two bars in the middle, the flight director, which guides the plane how to fly, simplified said.
GREEN Every variable that is set to a specific value, is displayed in green. For example on the left, the numerous numbers at the speed strip, are v-speeds for flaps, gear, rotation and so on. Or also the
BARO, which shows the selected QNH.
WHITE Things in white is just information. Like at the bottom right, there is only a reference to the standard QNH or at the bottom center of the artificial horizon you can see the radar altitude (RA).
RED Red is as always the warning color. In this picture this is the two red, dotted lines at the top and bottom of the speed-stripe. They indicate minimum and maximum airspeed. Or the big PULL UP message, saying the pilot he has to pull up the plane because of immediate danger of terrain or an excessive sink-rate.
NOTE: Magenta is also used on navigational displays (maps and CDIs) to indicate a GPS-route, whilst green is used for things like VOR and ILS.
One thing is that the interface should look cool and "techy". But on the other hand I don't want to use colors or layouts which are either very regulated or have a highly specific meaning.
I don't know what your web-interface will be for, how critical the information is and by whom it will be used. However, because you want to let it look like an avionic I assume it will be made for pilots. As you said it's a rescue service, what looks time-critical for me. I would recommend a dark design, as every avionic with bright, saturated, well-chosen colors, to emphasize important parts. Combined with a modern monospace font, it is going to look terrific. (Interface designer is such a cool job :) )