USAF to test device that may prevent adverse physiological symptoms in pilots during flight

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Agile Combat Support Directorate recently awarded a $195,000 contract to military-equipment vendor Spotlight Labs to test a device the company calls the SPYDR, which is designed to immediately alert T-6 aircrew of low oxygen in the bloodstream; the fliers may then act to prevent physiological symptoms in flight.

The Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer that the services use to instruct Joint Primary Pilot Training (JPPT) students in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots.

The new device -- created to provide more accurate readings of oxygen levels -- will be integrated into the pilot’s helmet directly behind the ears, collecting performance data and monitoring heart rate during flight, said 2nd Lt.  Jessica Farris, an engineer in the ACS Directorate’s Human Systems Office and program manager of the Pulse/Hypoxia Observation Gear team that is managing the project. “At certain thresholds, different alarms will sound,” she said. “In the beginning it’s a constant beep and then the beeps get faster as the pilot loses oxygen.”

T-6 instructor pilots began testing the devices in late March 2018 and are scheduled to conclude at the end of April 2018. During testing, Spotlight Labs is providing 20 SPYDR devices as well as technical support.

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