The Spatial Disorientation (SD) Training Lab offers students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in visual and vestibular illusions that may be encountered in-flight.
An aviation visual illusion occurs when environmental factors, such as lighting or terrain features, create misleading visual cues that can lead pilots to misjudge their altitude, speed or orientation. An aviation vestibular illusion occurs when a pilot's inner ear senses an inaccurate perception of their aircraft's motion, due to conflicting sensory inputs. This can lead to disorientation and potentially dangerous situations, as the pilot may misinterpret their actual position and movement. By providing firsthand experience of these illusions on the ground, the SD Lab equips pilots with the skills needed to promptly identify and respond to such challenges when they arise in the air.
The SD Lab offers a 90-minute training session where students will learn about and experience six visual illusions and six vestibular illusions. Students will use Virtual Reality Headsets and the full-motion flight simulator that will move them in four degrees of freedom: pitch, roll, heave and a continuous 360° yaw. These sessions are available when students take the AS 221 Instrument Pilot Operations and AS 357 Flight Physiology courses.
- Force Dynamics 401cr Motion Simulator: A full-motion flight simulator with four degrees of freedom: pitch, roll, heave and 360° of continuous yaw. The 401cr uses a variety of existing popular flight simulator software titles with or without a virtual reality component in addition to custom-made applications by ERAU. The 401cr motion system provides large motion range that truly simulates forces, delivers high-impact acceleration and has best-in-class frequency response that helps eliminate motion sickness.
- Virtual Reality (VR) Computer Station: High-powered computer with a Varjo Aero VR headset and hand controls capable of running flight simulation software and other standalone VR applications.
The SD Training lab conducts research on VR spatial disorientation training. Current research studies include measuring the effectiveness and perception of VR visual and vestibular illusions training for pilots and their awareness of these illusions.