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My research is aimed at supporting pilot performance in demanding situations which may, for example, lead to startle or surprise, spatial disorientation, and loss-of-control in-flight. If not recognized and adequately managed by the air crew these situations may have catastrophic consequences. My expertise in this area is valuable for students of the Air Accident Investigation Course, which is organized bi-annually by Cranfield’s Safety and Accident Investigation Centre (headed by Prof. Graham Braithwaite). This course is targeted at professionals from various military and commercial aviation organizations, such as air forces, airlines, and safety boards. Hence, lecturing at these courses helps to increase TNO’s visibility in a large network.
Another ambition is to set up mutual research programs between TNO and Cranfield University. For this I work closely together with Prof. Nick Lawson, head of Cranfield’s National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC). The NFLC owns and operates several laboratory aircraft. Their primary purpose is to teach aerodynamics to aerospace engineers. In the scope of this collaboration with TNO, NFLC offers free use of aircraft, pilots, and test subjects for in-flight experiments on human factors. This offers a great opportunity to investigate spatial disorientation, or to validate physiological monitoring equipment in a real aircraft.
The assignment as visiting professor started two years ago. Since then, on the educational side, several lectures on human factors were developed for the Air Accident Investigation course which is organized bi-annually by the Safety and Accident Investigation Centre of Cranfield University. On the research side, TNO and Cranfield University collaboratively performed an in-flight study showing that a pilot’s ability to interpret the artificial horizon can be greatly impaired by spatial disorientation. The flights were carried out by a test pilot of the National Flying Laboratory Centre of Cranfield University. The results of the study were successfully published in Applied Ergonomics (Landman et al., 2019).