Just a few months ago, Edwards Air Force Base purchased the new ROBDfor their training program. Check out this great article on the value and cost savings on the ROBD.Read More
The Environics, Inc. Post
Environics is pleased to announce the release of the next generation ROBD, available now.
Hypoxia was in the news recently after a small aircraft went down near Jamaica. After initialing radioing for permission to descend from 25,000 to 20,000 feet due to an indication of an issue, all communication was lost. NORAD tweeted that two F-15s were scrambled to the location and that hypoxia was suspected. The military pilots reported the windows were fogged and the pilot was slumped in his seat, though breathing. The plane continued to fly on autopilot until it crashed north of Jamaica.
Last week, in the YouTube program "Scrubbing In" presented by Navy Medicine, focused on training Naval and Marines for the feeling of hypoxia. In this week's show, the hosts are at Navy Medicine Aviation Survival Training Center in Patuxent River, Md, and the training application of the Environics Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD2) is featured.
LCDR Corey Littel, the Director of the Aviation Survival Training Center, discusses what hypoxia is and how the pilots are trained. The Leutenant Commander discusses the use of hypobaric chambers for hypoxia awarenewss training. He explains this method is "slightly outdated." We then are shown training lab containing a number of ROBD2 systems, as well as the use of the "much more modern means of delivering a mask on version" of hypoxia training.
A few weeks back, I shared some information on the flight restrictions enacted due to concerns of hypoxia and hypoxia symptoms in pilots of the F-22 Raptor. Yesterday, it was reported that a potential cause of has been identified.
The flight restrictions, which limit flights within 30 minutes of a landing field, are still in place. According to Col. Kevin Robbins, a commander of the First Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, 11 incidents of hypoxia have been reported in the last 10 months.
There have been and still are many speculated reasons for the hypoxia (which we review here and here). The latest release suggests that it is not the aircraft itself, but a piece of equipment worn by the pilots, a vest, that is to blame.
Due to the 9Gs the F-22 pilots may endure, an inflatable vest is worn. The vest provides counter-pressure during rapid decompression. While protecting the lungs, it also has the effect of restricting breathing, potentially being a hazard in terms of hypoxia.
The Environics Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD2) is used in the training of pilots on hypoxia.
To view the full story, as aired on CBS News, please see below. You can see the ROBD2 used in correlation with the training simulator at about 45 seconds.
As a followup to my last post about the restrictions on F22 flights, Stars and Stripes published an interesting article which discusses some of the possible causes. One suggested cause is the oxygen system. The on-board oxygen generation system, or OBOGS, in the Raptors does not use liquid oxygen like the F16. Instead, air is drawn in through the engine and then filtered to increase the oxygen in the pilots' breathing air.
While the OBOGS is one possibility, Air Force investigators are considering other possiblilities, such as contimination as well. Several suggested contaminates are discussed, including the components that are used to create the F22 skin. The skin is created in a unique way to help the fighter evade radars.
In the news recently, there have been a number of stories regarding the F-22 Raptor and the concerns of pilots and others regarding symptoms of hypoxia in flight. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta ordered the Air Force Tuesday to limit all F-22 flights to distances that would allow pilot to make an emergency landing at any given time. In addition, the time line for addition of backup oxygen to the aircraft has been moved up. The Secretary requested monthly updates on the efforts to local the root cause of the oxygen deficiency in the cockpit.
The symptoms of hypoxia vary between individuals. The initial symptoms can include a general dulling of the senses, clumsiness or drowsiness. Some compare the feeling to being slightly intoxicated.
Without suplemental oxygen or flying to lower altitudes, the symptoms then worsen. Pilots may suffer from any combination of the following symptoms:
tingling in the skin
changes in vision
bluish tint to the lips.
Due to the effect on the brain, however, the pilot may be completely unaware that they are having any problems. The Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device is used to train pilots on the early symptoms of hypoxia in a simulated environment so that they may take preventative actions prior to becoming incapacitated.
Please click for more information on the symptoms of hypoxia, how the body becomes hypoxic at high altitude, and on how the Environics Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device is used to train pilots on the symptoms of hypoxia.
Every year, we ask our customers for their feedback throughout the year as well as on our annual Continuous Improvement Survey. We take this input very seriously, discussing the thoughts and suggestions and, when possible, implementing the requests that are made. One recurring suggestion was the availability of a Service Agreement for Recalibration of our systems. (You can learn more about our Calibration Services here.)
After many internal discussions, we are proud to announce the availability of Service Agreements on both new and existing systems. By having a Service Agreement with us, you will save both time and money. We are happy to help customize your agreement to fit your needs.
The benefits of signing a Service Agreement are:
You will lock in the current recalibration cost for the length of your agreement.
Your system will be given priority status when it arrives for recalibration. This means less downtime for you!
Your will receive a 5% discount on your recalibration cost by prepaying a One-Year Agreement or by signing a Two to Five Year Service Agreement (prepayment not required). This discount is on top of the savings you receive by locking in the current recalibration rates.
To learn more or to request a Service Agreement for an existing system, please contact us at (860) 872-1111 or complete an online request.
Over the past year, I have written several times about the effects of hypoxia, including a video, which showed not only how hypoxia may present itself, but how the hypoxic person may be oblivious to the effects. I also shared information regarding the use of the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD2), and how this system is used in military training to allow pilots to better prepare and understand the symptoms of hypoxia. You can read more here and here.
Today, I wanted to share an interesting study from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Aviation Survival Training Center, Naval Survival Training Institute, Naval Operational Medicine Institute in Washington. The researchers were attempting to determine how effectively the ROBD (the earlier version of the ROBD2) reflected the reported symptoms of hypoxia when compared to in-flight occurrences.
The researchers began by surveying 566 aviators with a 20 question, anonymous survey about their flight experiences with hypoxia PRIOR to ROBD training. The survey included basic demographic questions followed by questions regarding in-flight hypoxia symptoms they may have experienced. For those who responded that they had experienced hypoxic symptoms in flight, additional questions were asked regarding which symptoms they had experienced.
A second group of 156 pilots were surveyed, also anonymously, following ROBD training at a simulated altitude of 25,000 ft (following the Navy's standard training protocols). Again, the survey included demographic questions as well as questions regarding any symptoms of hypoxia they may have experienced during the training.
Once the data was collected, the results were analyzed using a variety of means (including Chi-square analysis (alpha=0.05), Fischer’s exact test (alpha=0.05), and incident
risk ratios). I won't review all of the data and analysis, but some of the key findings are reviewed below.
For those surveyed regarding in-flight symptoms:
20% reported hypoxia symptoms at an average altitude of just over 25,000 ft
Of those who had experienced in-flight symptoms, over half (57%) were not wearing an oxygen mask when the symptoms started and only 21% reported the experience in naval aviation hazard reports (HAZREPs).
The most common symptoms reported were tingling, difficulty concentrating and dizziness.
When comparing the results of the two surveys, the researchers found:
5 of the 16 symptoms listed on the surveys had statistically significant differences in the reported levels (tingling, difficulty concentrating, air hunger, blurred vision, and lights dimming.
For the other 11 of the 16 symptoms, there was NO significant difference between the frequency reported during in-flight experiences and ROBD2 training experiences.