Multiple groups presented interesting ideas concerning flight safety and hidden disabilities. While these projects did not make our “Top Three,” we felt they deserved an honourable mention in this edition of the LAB.
In respect of flight safety, Group D put forward the idea that wearable tech, such as smart watches, could be linked via existing Bluetooth functionality to alert systems in the cockpit in the event of a pilot emergency. The wearable tech would be able to forewarn a potential pilot incapacitation arising from heart attacks, strokes, or other medical emergencies based off bodily health monitoring. The group also suggested that once implemented and approved, the approach could be used to progress trials of single pilot commercial operations.
Group E focused on investigative research into flight safety and the issues arising from unforeseen weather conditions that create delays for day-to-day airport operations. After citing specific flight incidents in Australia, this group proposed that artificial intelligence (AI) software could be developed to source and interpret weather information from multiple sources in real time. It could be used to push warnings of changing weather conditions to aircraft en-route. An Australian case study was used as an example where fog prevented a flight from landing at its planned destination. In this case study, the pilots opted, on the basis of weather at departure, to an alternate airport. When they arrived at the alternate its weather conditions had also deteriorated to below required minima. The aircraft was forced to land at the alternate despite the weather due to depleted fuel levels. The newly proposed weather software could offer pilots the opportunity to make more timely decisions.
Groups F and G presented complementary ideas, replicating in some aspects the current Sunflower Lanyard scheme. Group F proposed that rather than an outwardly visible sign of hidden disabilities; a passenger could obtain an RFID tag that they could keep on them. This would then be read by staff at key passenger touch points (e.g., check-in, security) which would alert staff to the hidden disability and flag key potential proactive actions, if needed. Group G proposed that training for airport and airline staff addressing hidden disabilities could be enhanced by utilizing virtual reality (VR). Their proposal suggested staff members experience elements of hidden disability using VR headsets, headphones, gloves, and the like. The goal would be to enhance the awareness and help staff empathise through experiential learning about passengers’ challenges rather than just be informed of them.
Student interest and engagement is pivotal to the future success and advancement in aviation. It is refreshing to see the creative ideas students bring to the table as one day they will be in roles as consultants, airport management, air crew, regulators, and other important positions in the aviation industry. It is these type of experiential programs at our universities that drive curiosity and passion to continuously improve the unique dynamics of aviation and keeps us questioning what is next.
L&B wishes the Swinburne students success in their future aviation endeavours and looks forward to witnessing their potential growth in the industry.