Oxygen Systems

Cobham Completes Development of Pilot Breathing Sensors

Cobham sensors will help identify root cause of military aviation physiological events

Orchard Park, New York – Cobham has completed internal development of an Exhalation Gas Sensor designed for the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine in support of the Aircrew Mounted Physiologic Sensing System (AMPSS 2.6) program.  The exhalation sensor block will be delivered to the Air Force end of September 2017 and completes a two part breathing sensor system which includes an inhalation sensor block that was delivered June of this year. Together they comprise the first pilot-mounted sensor system to capture in-flight, real-time oxygen system, cockpit environmental, and pilot physiological data to help determine root cause of physiological events (PEs) that continue to effect pilot safety and performance. The breathing sensors are pilot mounted and can be used on any platform.

 “Understanding root cause is the first critical step towards designing a solution that will be able to predict and prevent the onset of hypoxia-like symptoms,” said Rob Schaeffer, Product Director, Environmental Systems at Cobham Mission Systems.  “Our gas sensing system will create a library of information that will tell us how the aircraft oxygen system is performing, what the cockpit environmental conditions are around the pilot and if the pilot is properly oxygenated as indicated by expired oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration. The inhalation data will show, for example, if not enough oxygen is being delivered to the pilot or if there is a loss in cabin pressure indicating the potential for hypoxia-like symptoms. The exhalation sensor will detect if the pilot is breathing normally or perhaps is hyperventilating leading to symptoms of hypocapnia, or too much oxygen. All of this data will be analysed post flight and correlated to any hypoxia-like symptoms reported during the mission.”

These sensors represent the first phase of development that will collect data needed for root cause analysis. The next phase of development will include a warning feature that will alert the pilot to take manual corrective action. A future state system will include a mitigation capability that automatically adjusts breathing regulator output based on data the sensors are providing. Ultimately, our gas sensors will be integrated into a next generation, complete life support system that will seamlessly predict and pre-empt the onset of hypoxia-like symptoms.

The inhalation sensor block is located on the end of the pilot mask breathing hose and is attached to a chest mounted breathing regulator or integrated terminal block. The exhalation sensor is positioned at the end of second hose attached to the mask exhalation port and can sit inside a vest pocket so as not to impede the pilot’s field of regard. 

Cobham, with its world leading, highly successful suite of On-Board Oxygen Generating Systems (OBOGS), pilot and aircraft mounted oxygen regulators, and parachutist oxygen systems, ultimately aims to be the leading provider of hypoxia management solutions.

About Cobham Mission Systems

The most capable critical control solutions for extreme environments.

As the world’s leading supplier of critical control solutions, we help our customers to increase the safety and mission capabilities of their personnel and equipment in extreme environments.

Our proven and trusted solutions in air-to-air refuelling, life support and weapons carriage, deliver assured performance and class-leading through-life costs that enable our customers to bring complex projects to market quickly, and with minimal risk.

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