Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR DEC JAN 2015 Contents 43
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 05 | DEC/JAN 2015
Simulations aim to
improve pilot perception
Researchers from a US Navy
Naval Medical Research Unit
are developing new simulation
technologies to address the threat
posed by spatial disorientation
(SD) to pilots of fixed and
THE RESEARCH BY the Aeromedical Directorate of the Naval
Medical Research Unit – Dayton (NAMRU-D) aims to counter
SD by developing, validating and upgrading simulator-based SD
recognition and avoidance training scenarios and supporting
courseware. Within the last year, researchers completed two
studies involving a total of 38 pilots and four different flight
scenarios. This work was sponsored by NAVAIR PMA-205
(Aviation Training Systems) and the Defense Health Program.
Two of those scenarios addressed the Black Hole Illusion (BHI)
and Control Reversal Error (CRE), the former a form of SD that
can occur during night approaches to runways in visually sparse
environments. With few depth cues, pilots often feel they are
too high and mistakenly descend to a lower, shallower approach
path. If unlit high terrain or obstacles are near the approach path
the end result can be fatal.
To determine if the BHI could be reliably created in a
simulator, the SD lab developed day and night landing scenarios,
WHAT IS SPATIAL DISORIENTATION?
Spatial disorientation (SD) is an aviator’s misperception of the
attitude, position or motion of his/her aircraft relative to the Earth’s
surface and gravitational vertical. SD is a serious threat to flight
safety and is the leading aeromedical cause of Class A mishaps in
naval aviation. SD is also a leading killer across the US military as
well as civilian aviation.
This strain of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
bacteria is magnified 50,000 times.
US DoD to combat superbugs
TO ADDRESS THE growing threat of ‘superbugs’– bacteria
that cannot be treated with existing medications – the US
Department of Defense (DoD) is increasing its support for
research to find solutions.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi, the Pentagon says, is a
growing global threat. And with few antibiotics in development
at the major pharmaceutical companies, it is a threat that can no
longer be ignored.
At the 2014 Military Health Research Symposium held in
August 2014, DoD infectious disease experts said that more than
a third of US service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan
developed a bacterial or fungal infection as potentially life-
threatening as their wounds.
It was also highlighted that around one in 10 recruits contract
a skin infection – normally caused by an antibiotic-resistant
bacteria strain such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus (MRSA) – that can delay training or result in separation.
First recognised in the 1960s, MRSA is also resistant to
penicillin and other antibiotics and is a growing problem in
healthcare facilities across the developed world. Other drug-
resistant organisms include vancomycin-resistant enterococci
and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The US military first identified multidrug-resistant infections
in combat injured in 2003 on the hospital ship Comfort and
at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Indeed, facilities where service
members are treated and housed seem particularly compatible
with the establishment and spread of drug-resistant bacteria.
The threat to readiness and unit integrity will see the Pentagon
increase its annual spend to more than US$40 million to help
support the development of vaccines or medications that can
effectively treat the bacteria, including research to seed future
work on new antibiotics.
Anti-fungal treatments will also receive attention, with the
rate of fungal infections in trauma cases among US troops in
Afghanistan reportedly reaching 3.5 per cent in 2010.
and a short six-minute training video explaining BHI and how to
contend with it.
In daytime conditions participants flew near perfect
approaches, but in night scenarios 92 per cent of them flew
significantly low BHI approaches: on average they were 45m
too low when only 2.4km from the runway. After watching the
training video, the night approach deviation (45m) was reduced
to less than 1m.
During the same study, pilots flew the CRE scenario in which
they followed a lead aircraft through a series of turns.
The lead flew into the clouds, continued its turns and
eventually disappeared, forcing the participant to transition to
instruments and recover from the turn. During the recoveries
23 per cent of the pilots committed at least one CRE by initially
turning in the wrong direction, steepening the angle of bank.
This error, says researchers, can be extremely dangerous in
actual instrument flight, leading to incapacitating SD and a fatal
departure from controlled flight.
As a result of the SD research findings, NAMRU-D has
transitioned the developed simulation and training courseware
products for uptake by the Naval Survival Training Institute.
– Matthew Mendenhall
Newly developed simulations will help
pilots counter spatial disorientation.
Image: US Air Force
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