Alcohol Effects Simulator for Pilot Training

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2R44AA015825-02A1
Agency Tracking Number: AA015825
Amount: $721,058.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: PHS2009-2
Small Business Information
DUNS: 120672589
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 (520) 325-4505
Business Contact
Phone: (520) 325-4505
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This proposal is a direct response to an NIH-stated requirement for a system to simulate piloting aircraft under hypothetical or actual drinking handicaps . This requirement, released by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, recognizes that alcohol plays a significant role in serious (fatal) aircraft accidents in all three major aviation sectors: general, commercial and military. Effects of alcohol on piloting skills are paid little attention in typical flight training programs. However, there is ample evidence that pilot training is most effectively done by having student pilots actually experience the flight conditions they must learn. The Federal Aviation Administration has certified the use of various types of flight simulators for training purposes. These flight simulators have been used very effectively, and are particularly useful in providing student pilots with experiences which might be unduly dangerous to attempt in actual flight conditions. This project will lead to development of an Alcohol Effects Flight Simulator (AEFS) Trainer, which can augment flight simulators and mimic the consequences of flight under the effects of varying degrees of alcohol consumption. This will be done by performing a series of controlled experiments using prescribed flight protocols on a flight simulator without alcohol consumption (control) and with alcohol consumption (test groups). Deviations from the control conditions will be determined and implemented in the AEFS Trainer, which can then be used to teach sober pilots the likely effects of flight under the influence of alcohol as a function of amount consumed and time since consumption (as reflected by blood alcohol levels). The AEFS Trainer will be a comprehensive training package, formatted to be familiar to pilots and consistent with the nature of other pilot training supplements. It can be used independently or with instruction, and can be used to view intoxicated pilot performance in real flight-time (both by video and computer-playable flight simulator files), to experience the simulation of some of the impairments that accrue to elevated blood alcohol content (BAC), or to compare actual intoxicated simulator flight profiles with mean data accumulated in our experimental databases. This Phase II project comprises two main experiment tracks: 1) experiments with intoxicated pilots to determine real reactions to elevated BAC in a wide variety of flight regimes, and 2) training experiments with the AEFS Trainer to investigate short and long-term behavior modification in pilot drinking habits. This project produced impressive Phase I results that have yielded new findings about the behavior of intoxicated pilots. The Phase II project will build on that work with the efforts of a very strong and diverse team. Personnel for this project encompass skill sets including: research project management SBIR product commercialization experiment design data reduction and analysis software development medicine clinical psychology alcohol behavior modification aeronautics/simulation flight training/education PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, has recognized that alcohol plays a significant role in serious (fatal) aircraft accidents in all major aviation sectors. Pilot training in this area is clearly inadequate, and is best addressed by hands-on learning experience. The proposed product development will lead to the Alcohol Effects Flight Simulator (AEFS) Trainer, augmenting existing flight simulator training programs to mimic or demonstrate piloting while intoxicated.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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