May 3, 2018

Participate in Aviation Research


The Advanced Cognitive Engineering (ACE) Laboratory at Carleton University is looking for participants for their latest General Aviation Study.  For over a decade, researchers at the ACE Lab have been studying aspects of risk reduction for general aviation pilots, using flight simulation.  The current study is an exciting expansion of this work, as it will look at the impact of using electronic navigational aids in VFR flight. The experienced technical team at the ACE Lab has developed a method for flying with “GPS” while in a simulator. This technology will permit participants to “fly” with many features of a navigational app.

In line with the ACE Lab’s focus on cognition, such as memory, situational awareness, task management etc., participants will have the opportunity to try two cognitive health tests designed for aviators.  Previous participants have remarked on the value of reflecting on their situational awareness and memory in novel scenarios.  This study should offer some challenging situations as pilots are asked to fly a custom search & rescue training exercise in a realistic full-scale Cessna 172 simulator (see image).

This study also introduces the latest technology in “real-time” detection of pilot mental workload.  Participants will wear a lightweight wireless EEG headset and a wristband with sensors that are designed to pick up on signs of increasing levels of workload.  If you enjoy learning about modern technology for aviators and have a passion for safety in general aviation, then you may be the ideal participant for this study.  To be eligible, pilots must have a current pilot’s license/permit (aeroplane) and medical certification, be 18 years or older, and have flown at least once in the past 24 months (as pilot-in-command).  Researchers tell COPA they hope that female pilots will also be encouraged to register for the study.  Let’s make sure that aviation science reflects all pilots!

By participating in this study, you will help researchers develop tools to keep pilots flying for as long as safely possible.  As Carleton University in located in Ottawa, most past participants at this point came from Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.  However, to broaden the research base, plans include eventually taking the equipment “on the road” across Canada.

COPA strongly supports this initiative and does not perceive it as a threat to the aging pilot but much rather as a potential major contributor to enabling pilots to fly longer in enhanced safety. COPA personnel who meet the requirements are participating in the study.

The ACE Lab studies in general aviation are directed by Dr. Chris Herdman and Dr. Kathleen Van Benthem.  More information about the research of the ACE Lab at Carleton University can be found at and in these videos,  (produced by the Search and Rescue New Initiative Fund (SAR NIF)).  COPA invites the reader to visit these two links: highly interesting and impressive. The ACE Lab general aviation studies are not financially or otherwise supported by any regulatory agency or aviation enterprise.