USAF, US Navy and industry discuss physiological sensors development

6 January 2020 (Last Updated January 6th, 2020 12:31)

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has hosted an industry day to brief industry about the need for sensors to reduce physiological episodes in pilots.

USAF, US Navy and industry discuss physiological sensors development
US Air Force and US Navy officials listen to a briefing during the Physiological Episodes Mitigation Technology Summit and Industry Day in Dayton, Ohio. Credit: USAF / Lt Col Christianne “BOS” Opresko.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has hosted an industry day to brief industry about the need for sensors to reduce physiological episodes in pilots.

More than 150 members from the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy and industry took part in the inaugural Physiological Episodes Mitigation Technology Summit and Industry Day conducted in Dayton, Ohio, US.

At the event, participants discussed the research and development of sensors to collect physiological data from pilots.

The USAF and US Navy intend to develop sensors that are capable of gathering data from pilots before, during and after a flight.

USAF Physiological Episodes Action Team (PEAT) lead Brigadier General Gregor Leist said: “Efforts surrounding this issue are really driven by the nature of the challenge. It’s a safety-critical issue, and we need to throw everything we can at this and find the root, if there is a root, for the safety of our pilots.”

Both the airforce and navy established PEATs to address the spike in the rate of physiological episodes. The services have been working with each other to share data and research.

Leist added: “What really drove a lot of the airforce activities for this was the T-6 trainer and the steep rise in air breathing-associated physiological episodes.

“We’ve been partnering continuously with the navy, sharing data in both directions so we’re not duplicating efforts, and have the defence department’s best working this.”

The PEATs used different sensors to collect aircraft data. The effort was aimed at accurately characterising the breathing and pressurisation systems to understand the cause for physiologic episodes.

AFRL sensors development team lead Dr James Christensen said: “The Integrated Cockpit Sensing programme aims to identify best-of-breed sensors for near-term operational implementation while defining an architecture, which will allow the airforce to continually add or upgrade the best sensing capability to prevent and/or mitigate the effects of physiological events.”