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NASA studies pilot cognition

"No matter how much training pilots have, conditions could occur when too much is going on in the cockpit," said Angela Harrivel, a NASA biomedical engineer who is leading the research.
by Staff Writers
Cleveland (UPI) Dec 1, 2008
The U.S. space agency is trying to find an effective way to monitor pilots' brain activity to help stop mishaps caused by stress, fatigue or distraction.

The research being conducted at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Glenn Research Center involves using functional near infrared spectroscopy and other imaging technology to measure blood flow in the brain's cortex and the concentration of oxygen in the blood.

NASA said such emerging technology offers a non-invasive, safe, portable and inexpensive method for monitoring indicators of neural activity.

Through the studies, researchers hope to find ways to improve the interaction between the increasingly sophisticated automation being used in aircraft and the humans who operate those aircraft, NASA said. The goal is to aid pilot decision-making to improve aviation safety.

"No matter how much training pilots have, conditions could occur when too much is going on in the cockpit," said Angela Harrivel, a NASA biomedical engineer who is leading the research. "What we hope to achieve by this study is a way to sensitively -- and, ultimately, unobtrusively -- determine when pilots become mentally overloaded."

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China postpones talks with Airbus: spokesman
Paris (AFP) Nov 27, 2008
China has postponed talks on finalising a deal with Airbus for 150 passenger planes after Prime Minister Wen Jiaboa scrapped his visit to France, a spokesman for the European aircraft maker said Thursday.

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