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New Research Addresses Spatial Disorientation

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Confused? 'Black hole' approaches are a common instance that can result in spatial disorientation.

It's a phenomenon that should be common knowledge to all aviators, and yet the amount of pilots who aren't aware of the perils of spacial disorientation is astonishing. Research has shown that spatial disorientation is responsible for as much as 20% of the fatal aviation mishaps in the military, and up to 10% of general aviation accidents. Yet the most advanced data that we have about this killer only breaks it down into 6 different types. We've all heard the adage "trust your instruments" about a thousand times- and while this can be a key in avoiding spacial disorientation, clearly it isn't working like it should.

Enter Dr. Braden McGrath of the Department of Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Together with his team, Dr. McGrath is hoping to use Tactile Situation Awareness Systems (TSAS) to combat the problem for good. This haptics band invented by Dr. Angus Rupert of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory uses vibrations to engage the pilot's sense of touch, instead of only the visual approach. The idea is for the band to rumble on one side when the yolk starts to get off-level, creating a sensation similar to the effects that the human body experiences on the ground. For more information about this game-changing research, click here to read the original article, published by General Aviation News.


The Law Offices of Michaelis, Montanari & Johnson specialize in the niche area of aviation law. With decades of experience and the results to prove it, the firm represents global aviation insurance companies and manufacturers as well as individual pilots and aircraft owners.

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