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Aircrew Endurance and Effectiveness

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Conference paper

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With changing operational environments for tactical aircraft new demands are being placed on aircrew, which are pushing the limits of physical endurance. In particular, mission durations have increased to the point that previous issues with ejection seat control have become more pronounced and have begun to affect aircrew performance. In the past, short duration missions have been the norm and the effect of ejection seat comfort was not well documented. However, changed mission profiles requiring extended seated durations have highlighted the effect of discomfort on aircrew performance. As part of the Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seat NACES Stability Improvement Programme SIP Martin-Baker have been working alongside the US Navy to assess and develop comfort improvements suitable for the SJU- 17A seat used in F- 18s and T- 45s. Various cushion designs were first assessed for anthropometric compatibility and thus comfort, and then environmental testing was undertaken on a reduced number of the chosen cushioning designs. The 3 most promising designs were finally tower and ejection tested in support of a flight clearance. Three F-18 squadrons, who complete regular evaluation questionnaires, are currently flying these three ejection seat designs. The initial results of this trial are demonstrating a need for improved lumbar support and the introduction of non-foam cushion inserts, rather than the highly compressible urethane and slow response cushions that are currently used. It is acknowledged that comfort affects the state of mental and physical well being of the aircrew, and their performance in the cockpit. Therefore understanding their endurance requirements and providing solutions to resolve these issues are imperative for the future of high performance fast jet aircrew.

Subject Categories:

  • Aircraft
  • Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems
  • Anatomy and Physiology

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