Indra, a global consulting and technology company and simulation manufacturer, is working together with iAltitude, a company specializing in high altitude sports training, in the development of a new flight trainer for the Spanish Air Force, the first of its kind in the world that incorporates a hypoxia system that reproduces the conditions of low oxygen availability, which air force pilots can encounter during high-altitude flights.
The pressure in a fighter aircraft cabin decreases as it gains altitude, thereby reducing the oxygen to low availability in the air. To overcome this problem, pilots use a backup oxygen mask to breathe. However, if something fails, they must be able to identify the symptoms that precede hypoxia, a dangerous state that can cause loss of consciousness in a few seconds. They will be able to react quickly only if they receive adequate training.
To this end, Indra has integrated iAltitude’s normobaric hypoxia equipment in the C101 jet, the same one, in which Spanish pilots train before they take control of an F18 or Eurofighter, (FT-CNH: Flight Trainer-Controlled Normobaric Hypoxia).
This system regulates the oxygen concentration pilots receive through their mask, reducing it progressively to analyze their resistance and reaction capacity.
Instructors can monitor trainee pilots’ physical and cognitive response in real time when faced with realistic flight situations that replicate real operations. Any change in their physiological variables or in the speed with which they react to the stimuli will be recorded for analysis.
With this data, the Aerospace Medicine Instruction Center will have one of the most advanced tools available to design training programs and strengthen pilots’ skills, abilities and safety.
The center will measure and manage all their conditions in a centralized and unified manner. The objective is to prepare them so that they can face a risk that, albeit exceptional, is critical for their safety.
Until now, training in hypoxia was mainly performed in hypobaric and normobaric sealed chambers, in which a pilot can perform some exercises to detect loss of ability, although not linked to flight tasks. This new system will offer a more realistic environment.
With Indra and iAltitude’s training, air force pilot training has taken a real leap forward. Hypoxia tests are now completely integrated with flight training. The capabilities of each pilot are evaluated in all kinds of circumstances and conditions, measuring their ability to complete the usual flight procedures from second to second.