US Air Force (USAF) researchers have tested new technology to deliver advanced in-flight respiratory monitoring and safeguard aircrew health and improve performance.

Researchers with the 711th Human Performance Wing (HPW) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, US, are working in collaboration with Cobham to develop the VigilOX advanced sensor system to provide continuous in-flight respiratory monitoring for aircrews.

711th HPW En Route Care Medical Technology Solutions Research Group research biomedical engineer and the Medical Technology Solutions team lead Dr David Burch said: “This sensor system measures the concentration of oxygen, breathing gas flow, pressure, temperature and humidity to the pilot.

“It will provide the aircrew with access to advanced monitoring capabilities while also factoring in weight and equipment limitations.”

“These measures give us a better insight on the pilot’s respiratory patterns and how well life support systems are functioning.”

The sensor system’s seamless integration into aircrew flight equipment (AFE) makes its suitable for in-flight respiratory monitoring. It will provide the aircrew with access to advanced monitoring capabilities while also factoring in weight and equipment limitations.

Burch added: “Having the sensor system integrated into the AFE allows us to really understand the pilot’s breathing patterns, energy demands, pulmonary function, and if the pilot is potentially exposed to anything that could degrade performance during combat.”

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Currently, the technology is undergoing tests by Burch and his team at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, US, to ensure the device meets the specification and design parameters for the USAF.

The VigilOX sensor system has already been tested on the T-6A, T-45, F-18, and F-15 aircraft to demonstrate its capability in improving monitoring capabilities and ensuring the safety of the aircrew.