Monthly Archive: March 2011

Orientation in Aviation

Man’s desire to soar into the sky led to the departure from his natural habitat. This resulted in a mismatch between the orientation demands of the new environment and his innate ability to orient. Motion stimuli in aviation differ in magnitude, direction, frequency and in the degrees of freedom from that experienced on the ground. …

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Orientation in Aviation: Vision

Vision is the most important sensory organ of orientation. There are, in fact, two distinct visual systems. First is the ‘Focal’ (central) vision. This is concerned with recognition and identification of an object and in general answers the question of “what”. This comprises of the central 30° of the visual cone. Focal vision is responsible for …

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Orientation in Aviation: Vestibular Apparatus

The vestibular apparatus is about the size of a pea, located in the inner ear. Within this small volume are sensory receptors, which are stimulated by angular accelerations as low as 0.05°/s2 (0.9mrad/s2) and linear acceleration of less than 0.01 G (0.1 m/s2).

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Lost It, Situational Awareness!

Situational Awareness “can be conceived of as the pilot’s internal model of the world around him at any point in time” [1]. Conventional flight requires the pilots to glean information from the instrument panel and other auditory inputs, interpret it and draw inference to maintain their situational awareness and in turn ensure safe flight. And …

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Decision Making in Aviation – The Twain shall Meet

The vital difference between classical or normative Decision Making and Naturalistic Decision Making is that whereas the former prescribes the correct way to make a decision, the latter describes the process of Decision Making, without prescribing a way to make the decision [1]. The process of normative (classical) Decision Making conventionally focuses on criteria and …

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Decision Making in Aviation: Classical versus Naturalistic

Sometimes procedural errors, due to lack of currency, increased workload (due to adverse weather, equipment malfunction or enemy action) or poor judgement (due to situational uncertainty or potential imminent catastrophe), leads to ‘pilot error’ [1]. The pilot errs, conventionally, whenever the perceptual, judgemental and motor demands exceed (her)his momentary attention capacity. “Typically it occurs when …

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Aviation Medicine Quiz – Hypoxia

Before we understand the basics about Hypoxia, please answer to the best of your knowledge and understanding the following questions pertaining to Hypoxia in aviation.

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Flying into thin Air: Understanding Hypoxia

Undoubtedly cabin pressurisation and oxygen systems have allowed unhindered aviation activities, with a caveat though – never to cross the altitude beyond the capabilities of the system on board. Thus, commercial aircraft fly maintaining a cabin pressure of 6000-8000 ft, and unpressurised small aircraft mostly operate below 10000 ft. Combat aircraft may have a higher …

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Flying into Thin Air: Neurological Effects of Hypoxia

The most important effects of hypoxia is on Central Nervous System (CNS) and vision. This insult to CNS which affects the performance in flight varies as per the altitude and the resulting stages of hypoxia. The effects are discussed as per the stages of hypoxia.

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Flying into Thin Air: Preventing Hypoxia

Technological improvements in reliability and performance of cabin pressurisation and Oxygen delivery systems has greatly reduced the incidents and accidents due to hypoxia. Yet, incidence of hypoxia in flight still occurs due to lack of vigilance, mechanical failure of equipment, improper indoctrination or improper use of oxygen equipment. 

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