Flight students from Purdue and Ohio State will be the first pilots to train with the ICARUS device, which uses “Smart Glass” technology to electronically switch the user’s lens between opaque and clear.
This allows instructors to prepare students for the challenge of flight in instrument flying conditions in a way previously unavailable, according to company officials.
The student can now be put into a wide variety of weather scenarios at the flick of a switch.
The biggest breakthrough is the ability to simulate visual flight into instrument conditions. The hoods that have been around since 1929 can’t simulate the surprise of entry, which is so deadly because they must be taken on or off to achieve effects, while ICARUS can be instantly changed from clear to opaque by the instructor, company officials explain.
ICARUS can simulate a range of conditions, like breaking out into poor visibility, such as one mile at the end of an instrument approach. This increases training value and negates the need for an awkward exchange of control.
Feedback has already shown a contrast between usage in Purdue’s Cirrus and Ohio State’s Cessnas, validating the company’s theory that view limiting devices should be cockpit specific, officials note.
ICARUS Devices was founded in 2015 by Nick Sinopoli, a 2012 graduate of Purdue with a degree in aeronautical engineering. The inspiration came after his own flight training experiences in the Navy and losing a friend to a VFR into IMC helicopter crash in 2012.
In August of 2016 a patent was issued and the next version will be a visor specifically for military and helicopter pilots.
ICARUS Devices reports it has the support of EAA’s IMC Club for testing and implementation. The IMC Club’s diverse group of pilots are already dedicated to IFR proficiency and are an invaluable resource to help write the manual for ICARUS, officials concluded.