Home » Preparing pilots for spatial disorientation — General Aviation News

Preparing pilots for spatial disorientation — General Aviation News

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As pilots, we are aware of spatial disorientation, but do we know how to respond when it happens?

and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Universitystudents will have the opportunity to experience spatial disorientation in a safe space at the university’s new Spatial Disorientation Laboratory.

Dr. Bob Thomas, head of the Spatial Disorientation Laboratory at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, stands near the new simulator being used by student Nella Filipkova. (Photo by Conor McShane)

Introduced in October 2022, the new simulator allows pilots to realistically feel and react to simulated dangerous flight conditions. This simulation can create an illusion that disorients the pilot. This illusion is an illusion that can mimic the feeling of turning, climbing, or descending when the aircraft is actually flying perfectly straight. Or, worse, do the opposite of what the pilot feels behind the controls.

A new simulation that can rotate 360° as well as pitch and bank 30° simulates the vestibular illusion associated with the inner ear. This illusion can cause dizziness, disorientation, motion sickness, and a “graveyard spiral” illusion. A dangerous spiral dive where the pilot accidentally entered. It also includes visual illusions such as false horizons and runway width illusions.

According to FAA statistics, 5% to 10% of common aviation accidents are caused by spatial disorientation, 90% of which are fatal.

Dr. Bob Thomas, assistant professor of aeronautical sciences who leads the Spatial Disorientation Laboratory at the Aviation College, said:

For the new simulation, Thomas adapted a Force Dynamics 401cr motion simulator, and the university’s Augmented Reality (XR) lab developed the Virtual Reality Aviation Illusion Trainer (VRAIT). VRAIT contains 12 scenarios for students to experience through virtual reality headsets. In this scenario, a student flies in a Cessna and travels a recorded path through each illusion. This lasts about 5 minutes.

Humans can panic and overreact to these illusions when they’re actually flying, said Thomas, and show them what each scenario feels like in a controlled laboratory space. He added that it was invaluable training.

“We’re all learning about these illusions, but it’s hard to imagine what it feels like and how much it affects your perception.” It’s horrifying to imagine that you could experience spatial disorientation in your life, which is why everyone should use a simulator so they know what to expect and experience the illusion. will be able to identify it correctly.”

“The lab allows students to experience potentially dangerous scenarios in a safe and controlled atmosphere,” added student Derek Matusch. “It could help all pilots be aware of the dangers they may encounter while flying.”

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