Defense

May 31, 2013

NAVAIR pilots learn to take a breath

Marine Corps Maj. Kevin Ryan undergoes oxygen deprivation training while operating Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Divisionís Manned Flight Simulator at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

It can strike without warning, robbing a pilot of the ability to think clearly or react as he or she flies through the air at supersonic speeds.

I was gasping for air and got a little light headed, said Navy Lt. Pat Bookey, a pilot assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23. It was pretty eye-opening because my symptoms donít really present themselves gradually and my blood oxygen level gets pretty low before I actually know it is happening. The symptoms hit me pretty hard.

The culprit was hypoxia, more commonly known as oxygen deprivation, and symptom recognition is key to combating its disastrous effects, which can include a decrease in mental performance, delayed response time, diminished basic motor skills and loss of consciousness.

Bookey was one of several F/A-18 pilots who recently participated in a training event on April 16 that combined NAVAIRís Manned Flight Simulator with a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device simulator. The purpose was to show pilots what hypoxia really feels like in the cockpit during task-heavy exercises and to emphasize what life-saving steps they should take if it strikes, such as accessing the emergency oxygen supply and landing the aircraft.

When a pilotís workload is very high, the ability to identify hypoxia symptoms is reduced, said Marine Corps Maj. Tobias van Esselstyn, VX-23 director of safety and standardization. ìWe combined the ROBD with a high fidelity [realistic] simulator, put F/A-18 pilots in their own environment, gave them a task that is very hard to do and got them hypoxic at the same time.

With traditional hypoxia training, a pilot uses an ROBD while flying a simulator at a computer. While informative, this approach does not require the same workload experienced during flight and results in a higher awareness of symptoms such as light-headedness or reduced motor control. The new combined training demands much more of the pilotís attention and delays the awareness of hypoxia symptoms, creating a more realistic environment.

Lt. Cmdr. Corey Little, an aeromedical safety officer for Naval Test Wing Atlantic, oversaw the training and recorded each pilotís specific symptoms.

It is good to see based on body type, physical makeup and physical fitness levels how each individual responds to a decrement in oxygen, Little said. ìBy doing the hypoxia training in conjunction with a very labor-intensive or task-intensive flight simulation, it allows them to get further into the hypoxia training and really feel the full effects of that lack of oxygen.

Steve Naylor, the MFS F/A-18 simulation lead, said he was encouraged by the experimentís results.

The problem with hypoxia recognition is each person reacts differently to it,î Naylor said. ìDuring the training, several pilots were surprised at what they felt in the simulator. At least one pilot assumed he would feel the way he did when he was hypoxic 10 years ago in a jet, and the way he felt then was not the way he felt now.

Simulator training helps pilots learn what their personal hypoxia symptoms are and what actions to take to avoid dangerous mishaps.

When you fly a single piloted aircraft, you are the only one who can help yourself out,î van Esselstyn said. ìThatís why most of the time pilots work diligently to know all their procedures cold. It is easy to know what to do, but sometimes recognizing when to do it is the hardest part for us up there flying.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 
 

SMC stands up new Advanced Systems, Development Directorate

While space officially begins at 62 miles above the Earth’s surface, for the men and women of the Air Force space begins near sea level at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base,Calif. SMC is where innovative ideas are matured into space systems that deliver operational capabilities to U.S. warfighters in...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr.

Navy’s first F-35C squadron surpasses 1,000 flight hours

Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr. An F-35C Lightning II aircraft piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, flies the squadron’s first local sortie. The F-35C is the carrier va...
 
 

Salina, Kansas, recalls anniversary of shuttered base

It has been 50 years this month since the announcement that Schilling Air Force Base was closing rattled Salina residents. The Salina Journal, which carried news of the closure in its Nov. 19, 1964, editions, reported that the economic disaster then spared no part of the community – real estate, retail, civic involvement, church attendance,...
 
 
Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine

SEWIP block upgrade program evaluated for LCS

Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Helen Hernandez monitors an SLQ-32 radar aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower is deplo...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>