“Get the gauges on! Stay on the scales! “
With this phrase, my instrument teacher took me to the clouds for the first time. We were on an IFR trip plan on a marginal VFR (MVFR) day. He warned me that going in and out of the clouds, with this frequent changing from light to dark and back again would cause spatial disorientation. He was right.
I also requested this. I wanted at least 15 hours of IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) before I moved on. I had been reading accident reports from the National Transportation Safety Board, and was alarmed at how many of these accidents were attributed to an unintentional flight to instrument meteorological conditions by a pilot who was either untrained, not at all at actual IMC, or lacking in competence. I wanted to reduce my risk of the sudden factor, as disorientation and spatial disorientation can lead to a loss of control.
Nick Sinopoli, Inventor ICARUS device, shares a similar point of view. The name Icarus is an acronym. It stands for system of recognition and understanding of the conditions of the instrument. Sinopoli, who has a rating in both helicopters and airplanes and holds an engineering degree from Purdue University, invented the device in 2016 after losing a friend in an aviation accident.
Most vision-limiting devices used in IFR training are primarily hoods or goggles designed to restrict the pilot’s field of view on the instrument panel. The limited supply remains until the pilot removes the device. Simulation of IFR to VFR is instantaneous, as is the opposite – ready for IFR? Put the device on. do you want to go out? take it off. That’s not how it works in the real world, says Sinopoli, “IFR can sneak up on you.”
According to Sinopoli, the ICARUS device is a smart, vision-limiting device made of a polymer dispersive liquid crystal (PDLC) film that pilots wear in front of their eyes, either attached to a hat or headset, or attached to a flight helmet. PDLC is powered by a battery. The device is paired with an app that is controlled by the flight instructor. CFII can cause visual conditions to gradually deteriorate, allowing the client to experience the sensation of a sudden loss of external visual cues while flying in the actual aircraft. There is also an option for the CFII to press a button to bring up the draw, and the rate and amount of occlusion can also be modified by the CFII for a more realistic IFR experience.
“Old hoods haven’t changed since 1929, and they can’t change visibility,” said Eric Sabiston, professional pilot and co-founder of ICARUS Devices. “They can’t replicate marginal VFR, simulate dust and snow, or at least replicate breaking with a careful approach and then re-entering clouds, which would necessitate a missed approach,” he said.
“Both the NTSB and the FAA know for sure that sudden impact is the primary risk to pilots when they fly in unexpectedly low visibility conditions,” Sabiston continued. “After the accident that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, the NTSB asked the FAA to find a new way to accurately simulate spatial disorientation. ICARUS is the first device in the world to do just that.”
flying Device fly test
Nick Sinopoli allowed flying To try out the ICARUS device. Unfortunately, Seattle was experiencing LIFR (low instrument flight rules) with freezing level all the way to the roof, so a flight in a Cessna 172 wasn’t an option.
Sinopoli rolled with the punches, saying, “You can plan a nice outing, but you can’t predict the weather,” so we ended up using the Redbird FMX Advanced Flight Trainer (AATD) as a test rig. I wanted to know if it would work with AATD, because one of the complaints learners make is that they know something is about to happen when they hear the instructor tapping on the keyboard or tablet. Sinopoli said Icarus had found a way around that.
The ICARUS device can be attached to a headset, flight helmet or ball cap and once installed, you look at the world through a clear plastic screen – for starters.
I programmed the MVFR’s FMX for a ride between Pierce County Thun Field (KPLU) to Tacoma Narrows (KTIW). This is a fast ride, just 15 nautical miles to the west for ILS 17. The FMX is programmed for movement, moderate turbulence, and only crosswinds to be celebratory.
With the ICARUS device, there were no audible cues, Sinopoli adjusted vision using the app, and I found myself moving in and out of IFR conditions. I adjusted my scan accordingly, and played Sinopoli along, reducing and enhancing visibility, as when you think you have a runway and start to wind down, here comes the haze. Stay ahead of the aircraft and make the missed approach.
Sinopoli says it already has nearly 300 devices, which cost about $1,250, that are in use across the United States at major flight schools and training centers. He noted that the unit was made in the United States.
Sinopoli, who in addition to being an inventor is an Air Assault Pilot in the National Guard, announced that the US Army has expanded its launch fleet of ICARUS Aviation Devices to include all UH-60L and UH/HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters. Over the past year, I have used multiple ICARUS training and operational units with the unit’s AWR (Airworthiness Version).
According to Sinopoli, ARW’s military reports are similar to civilian supplementary type testimony.
“Basically, the Army has now allowed any Army Black Hawk unit to fly with the device. Previously, with Arabs and West Reports, only a few units could train with it.” Sinopoli said, adding that because the device doesn’t require installation or aircraft power — it has a self-contained battery and no STC is necessary.
“Death rates from unintentional meteorological conditions (IIMC) are unacceptable for our soldiers,” Sabiston said. “No device other than ICARUS can accurately replicate the inputs or mental challenges that a sudden impact places on our aircrews. If you can survive your first IIMC, chances are you will never have a problem again. When you train Startle impact pressure on pilots, they They survive the real thing. Many lives have already been saved by the device.”
ICARUS Instruments will continue to work closely with US Army aviation units to develop and deploy relevant tactics, technologies and procedures. The ICARUS team expects to send the device to other airframes in the military and branches of the military for use in scenario-based training.