High-tech Israeli helmet aims to prevent flight crashes
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High-tech Israeli helmet aims to prevent flight crashes

Life-saving system takes control of plane if pilot loses consciousness; air force personnel to be fitted with device

Israeli developed alert system Cannery, which medically monitors pilots and provides real-time emergency alerts. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Israeli developed alert system Cannery, which medically monitors pilots and provides real-time emergency alerts. (screen capture: Channel 2)

An Israeli-developed smart flight helmet will detect emergency situations in which pilots are about to lose consciousness, and take control of the plane in order to prevent disasters.

The state known as G-LOC, which occurs from excessive and sustained g-forces draining blood away from the brain, can cause pilots to momentarily faint as the flight takes off, and recoup as they regain a horizontal state.

Those short lapses have long been the cause of flight crashes around the world, as planes plummeted to the ground before pilots had a chance to regain control.

That is, until LifeBeam, a small Tel Aviv-based start-up, in cooperation with the defense ministry, finally came up with a solution, Channel 2 reported Sunday.

Sensors in the new Cannary system medically monitor the pilot and provide real-time detection and alert in case of any distress signals during the flight. An additional sensor, attached to the pilot’s forehead, measure his oxygen level, blood flow and heart rate.

“As soon as the pilot loses his consciousness, the aircraft can take over the steering system and keep it in control for the few seconds before the pilot regains his awareness and takes over,” said Yaron Krentz, an official at the defense electronics firm Elbit, which developed the life-saving technology along with LifeBeam, with support from the Defense Ministry.

The helmet, which is set to soon become fully operational and be implemented in the Israeli Air Force, also provides early warning in case of a drop in oxygen levels within the cockpit.

“In the past there was a case where an entire flight crashed because the crew suffered from hypoxia [lack of oxygen],” Krentz told Channel 2. “The pilot’s experience is that he slowly loses his ability to control what he is doing, and is unaware of it.”

Cannary is expected to be developed in the future to also accommodate commercial flights.

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