The Instrument Conditions Awareness Recognition and Understanding System (ICARUS) gives instructor pilots simulator-like capabilities while flying in the aircraft.
View Limiting Devices (VLD) are utilized by pilots to train for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), which are used to navigate and control aircraft in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) or clouds, fog, haze and dust. These Degrade Visual Environments (DVE) pose a challenge to all aviators and VLDs function to replicate the aviators’ view outside the cockpit being obscured.
ICARUS is a Smart VLD that changes opacity and allows instructors to dial in the visibility for scenario-based training. ICARUS simulates Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IIMC) by allowing the instructor to rapidly put a pilot into IMC and practice the critical transition to instrument flight. The lightweight visor is controlled by an app or manually on the Power Control Unit (PCU) by the instructor pilot.
Cut and tailored to each airframe
The AWR covers the Army’s UH-60L/M Black Hawk utility helicopter. The ICARUS team hopes to expand into the other airframes used by the Army. The ICARUS device’s Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal visor cut-out is tailored to each airframe, to ensure pilots do not receive any peripheral visual cues that they do not get in the clouds.
The ‘Startle’ effect is well documented in aviation accidents and ICARUS replicates it in the aircraft. For the ICARUS team the startle effect is something that they understand well. ICARUS’s Erik Sabiston, who flew UH-60 MEDEVAC helicopters in the Army, commented: “The first time I went inadvertent the startle effect almost made me shut down. Had ICARUS Devices been available back then I could’ve trained for this deadly phenomenon beforehand.”