QinetiQ and the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have signed a four-year contract worth £5m to carry out research to enhance military aircrew performance and protection.
As part of this deal, QinetiQ will conduct ten research projects with the support of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and academia.
QinetiQ Air business managing director Gaz Borland said: "Working with academia and SMEs we will be able to help the MoD on the best ways to protect and improve the working environment of aircrew, whether this be through technology or medical research.
"We will be able to maintain the UK’s capability in aerospace medicine whether in military or civil industry."
The research is expected to help the UK MoD take better decisions on equipment procurement, training and understanding of technology for the future.
These projects will focus on a range of topics, including the risks associated with inhaling high concentrations of oxygen, the potential risk of long-term effects of repeated high-altitude flying.
One of these projects will attempt to enhance the balance between necessary hearing protection and maintaining an awareness of important audible cues.
The test and evaluation of current and future aircraft and helicopter seat technology, and the assessing of materials designed to protect aircrew against lasers to quantify unwanted side-effects, are also included.
The remaining projects will attempt to understand the causes and effects of fatigue on aircrew and also to develop military aircrew tailored solutions.
In addition, one out of these ten will be attempting to reduce the risk of spatial disorientation in flight by recording incidents and interpreting findings for use in pilot training.
The evaluation and computer modelling to understand the role of helmet and helmet-mounted equipment in muscle fatigue and injury, and evaluating operational clothing to find the optimum balance between comfort during missions and protection against the elements in survival situations, are also part of the initiatives.
Image: The research enables the UK MoD to make better decisions on equipment procurement, training and understanding of technology for the future. Photo: courtesy of QinetiQ.