IAF’s pilot selection gets high-tech and ‘accurate’ (Lead)

August 5th, 2010 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) will in another three years put in place a new high-tech system to select fighter pilots for its cutting edge and high performance aircraft fleet that will also help in reducing air crashes due to human error, it was announced Thursday.
The system, an over Rs.200-million computerised mechanism developed by India’s defence scientists, “accurately” evaluates the multi-tasking qualities of a candidate, like psychomotor, information processing, coordination and visualisation skills, said Manas K. Mandal, director of the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR).

The IAF and the premier Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) jointly developed the system, Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS), which took nearly 10 years to take practical shape.

The new pilot selection system was developed as the existing system focuses on few aspects of the psychomotor skills, the eye-hand-leg coordination, of the pilot, Mandal said.

“Today’s fighter pilot is more than just a pilot. He is a systems manager who has to deal with multiple tasks. The system we have developed tests his ability to do this,” he said.

Chief controller of the DRDO W. Selvamurthy said the new system comes in two parts and has a mock-up of a fighter’s cockpit and a comprehensive battery of cognitive assessment (CBCA).

He said the cockpit part of the system provides visual and audio inputs of a target, the threat to the aircraft, the fuel available and other such parameters.

The CBCA measures intelligence and mental processes that are involved in the acquisition, storage, retrieval and application of information - both real and imaginary.

“CBCA measures a wider spectrum of cognition and is not only restricted to the measurement of reasoning as done by earlier intelligence assessments. It will measure different dimensions of cognition like attention, memory, problem solving, decision making, reasoning and concept formation,” he said.

He said the new system records the mental workload on the pilot, how he processes the information, and whether he does this quickly and correctly.

Hardware for the system has been developed using technology employed in aircraft flight simulators, while the software has the capability of recording complete flight data of the candidate so that any variables of flying skills can be easily extracted.

The IAF and DRDO signed an agreement Thursday, according to which 20 CPSSs will be installed at each of the three IAF selection boards at Dehradun, Varanasi and Mysore. Another 10 will be on standby.

It took DIPR of the DRDO, the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and the IAF 10 years to develop the technology for the integrated new age selection system which conforms to the paradigm shift in piloting of new high-tech aircraft.

The system also gains significance as the IAF is in the process of getting a new fleet of warplanes like 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

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