Summaries - Office of Research & Innovation
Back A Meta-Analysis of Physiological Episodes Affecting F/A-18 and T-45 Aircraft System Performance
|Division||Research & Sponsored Programs|
|Department||Naval Research Program|
Shattuck, Nita L.
Shattuck, Lawrence G.
Koyak, Robert A.
Boger, Dan C.
Kamel, Magdi N.
|Sponsor||NPS Naval Research Program (Navy)|
|Summary||Nearly 500 physiological episodes (PEs) have been reported by F/A-18 and T-45 aircraft operators over the last few years. Most of the events are reported to involve hypoxia or other breathing-related problems. The number of reported episodes increased significantly from 2015 to 2016 and it is likely there will be even more episodes in 2017. These episodes have been cited by numerous news outlets, have become a high priority for senior Navy officials, and have eroded trust in the equipment of those who operate the aircraft systems. The PE problem is at the same time fairly simple yet overwhelmingly complex. Simply put, during a PE, an aircraft operator experiences some degree of incapacitation perhaps due to hypoxia or a similar phenomenon and/or loss of pressurization in the cockpit. However, even though 500 episodes seem to be a very large number, when compared to the number of flights made over the last few years, the percentage of PEs is 0.1%. In other words, a PE is a relatively rare phenomenon. And, no two episodes are exactly alike. The episodes differ because (for example) the aircraft operators involved are different, aircraft are different, flight profiles are different, maintenance procedures and crews that performed the maintenance are different. And the amount of data potentially available is extraordinary: survey data and medical reports from aircrews; maintenance records on aircraft; system performance data captured in flight. Yet, other critical data, (e.g., composition of the air available to the aircrew and the oxygen saturation levels of aircrew) are not available. Thus, the challenge of this research project is to identify the root cause(s) of aircrew in-flight incapacitation -- a relatively infrequent event where a large number of variables exist that differ from one episode to the next. While there are large amounts of existing data that may be useful, critical data that would be most helpful regarding pilot status do not exist at this time.|
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