The technology can assess real-time pilot brain activity and even track fatigue to better inform worker rostering and staffing across airlines and seasons, helping provide consumers with safer and more reliable air travel

Researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO, a French aerospace engineering institute, and Drexel University have teamed up to create a head device that monitors airplane pilots’ brain function in an effort to build a more intelligent cockpit. Advancements and training that result from the findings may help bridge the gap between automation and human response during crises that arise during flights, and also provide important insights for staffing purposes.

Researchers observed two separate groups using the device, which is called a portable fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) and can be worn around the head. One group included pilots flying actual planes, and the other consisted of pilots using a simulator. The technology gauges activity in the areas of the brain that relate to problem solving and judgment, potentially allowing for airlines to better assess pilot fatigue and cognitive capabilities in real time.

Overall, this information may lead to more informed decisions on crew rostering and create a more seamless connection between pilots, the cockpit and ultimately encourage more reliable service for consumers.

Drexel

ISAE-SUPAERO


Lead image: pilots in plane cockpit from Atosan/Shutterstock

Researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO, a French aerospace engineering institute, and Drexel University have teamed up to create a head device that monitors airplane pilots’ brain function in an effort to build a more intelligent cockpit. Advancements and training that result from the findings may help bridge the gap between automation and human response during crises that arise during flights, and also provide important insights for staffing purposes.

Researchers observed two separate groups using the device, which is called a portable fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) and can be worn around the head. One group included pilots flying actual planes, and the other consisted of pilots using a simulator. The technology gauges activity in the areas of the brain that relate to problem solving and judgment, potentially allowing for airlines to better assess pilot fatigue and cognitive capabilities in real time.