ACT’s team of engineers developed its Aviation Hypoxia Training Systems (AHTS) in response to three requests from different government agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), and U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) requested our assistance to improve their altitude simulation systems for training pilots.
These agencies train pilots to recognize the symptoms of inflight hypoxia. This training saves the lives of pilots and passengers.
They were using hypobaric chambers to simulate the high altitudes encountered by pilots. These chambers have several problems:
- Expense – These chambers cost millions of dollars to acquire and hundreds of thousands to maintain each year.
- Injuries and Health Risks – Hypobaric chambers caused barotrauma, decompression sickness, and neurological damage.
- Fidelity of Training – Hypobaric chambers could not accommodate modern flight simulators
To fund the program, NAVAIR utilized the Small Business Innovation Research program. SBIR program’s mission is: “To support scientific excellence and technological innovation.”
The SBIR program awards government contracts to innovative small businesses that exhibit technological and scientific excellence. The SBIR program is a highly competitive program that requires the government to select the best technology and engineering team after an exhaustive search of competing technologies and businesses.