Research

Aircraft landing and takeoff performance monitoring systems:

Aircraft landing and takeoff performance monitoring is an area of research aimed at improving the information available to the pilot for decision making during runway operations. Such monitoring systems are aimed at averting runway overrun. Typical causes of runway overrun include engine failure on takeoff and reduced braking efficiency resulting from runway contamination, though common procedures also contribute to the problem.

In October 2004, MK Airlines Flight 1602, a Boeing 747 cargo flight, was operated with inadequate thrust on takeoff from Halifax International Airport resulting in the fatality of the seven crew members and a complete loss of the aircraft. In August 2005, Air France Flight 358, an Airbus 340, landed long in inclement weather at Toronto International Airport, overran the runway, and then caught fire. In August 2006, Comair Flight 5191, a CRJ 100, departed from the incorrect runway in Lexington, Kentucky, resulting in the loss of 49 lives.

The report of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigation into the MK Airlines accident, released in June 2006, recommended the implementation of a takeoff performance monitoring system in all cargo aircraft.

Human-machine system design in aerospace and biomedical applications:

Recent advances in the development of aircraft landing and takeoff performance monitoring systems have shown the feasibility of a cockpit instrument that could aid significantly in the decision making process during the most critical phases of flight, provided that the information can be effectively visualized. Several cockpit interfaces integrate a visual display with audible advice. The challenges associated with the successful development and adoption of new instruments depend more on the consideration of human factors than the robustness of the underlying technology.

Individuals with functional blindness must often use assistive aids to enable effective locomotion. Widely available devices do not provide effective information about obstacles above waist height, or are too cumbersome to have gained widespread adoption. Audification of Ultrasound for the Detection of Environmental Obstacles (AUDEO) provides a means to enable echolocation in an unobtrusive manner. Several prototype versions of AUDEO technology have been developed and studied. Such devices provide a user with pronounced Doppler echoes obtained by direct down-conversion of ultrasound, a system that provides acoustic flow that is evident upon initiation of travel and can be used to visualize the environment and detect environmental obstacles. Refined versions have been developed through an iterative design process including increasing scrutiny during user testing.

Aerospace security and applications of the global positioning system:

With the widespread use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) by civil aircraft, the use of Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) has been gradually de-funded in recent years. ADS-B transmissions, which include GPS-generated position reports, are used to track a cooperating contact, while PSR is capable of tracking both cooperative and non-cooperative contacts, subject to limitations of the technology. The security issues resulting from the erosion of PSR use are significant, and growing.