Sunday, November 25, 2007

Indian Fighter Pilots


The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to introduce a new computerised pilot selection system that has been developed by the country's defence scientists, an official said Friday.

IAF fighter Pilot

'Today's fighter pilot is more than just a pilot. He's a systems manager who has to deal with multiple tasks while flying at twice the speed of sound. The system we have developed tests his ability to do this,' W. Selvamurthy, chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said. The system is in two parts: the computerised pilot selection system (CPSS) that is a mock-up of a fighter's cockpit, and a comprehensive battery of cognitive assessment (CBCA).

Twenty CPSSs will be installed at each of the three IAF selection boards at Dehradun, Varanasi and Mysore, while another 10 will be on permanent standby. In addition, 200 CBCA nodes will be installed at each of the three selection boards. 'We drew on what is available worldwide, took the best we have as the benchmark and have developed what is perhaps the best such system in the world,' Selvamurthy told reporters on the sidelines of the three-day international conference on Psychological Assessment in Personnel Selection that opened here Friday.

'The system also has an export potential and we are looking at South Africa as a potential first customer,' he added. Sixteen scientists of the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) that functions under DRDO took six years to develop the Rs.200 million system. The IAF was closely involved in the development process.

'We wanted them to be partners in development and not just customers. This interface was very, very important to ensure we had a workable system,' Selvamurthy pointed out. Explaining how the system works, the scientist said the CPSS provides visual and audio inputs of a target, the threat to the aircraft, the fuel available and other such parameters.

'The system records the mental workload on the pilot, how he processes the information, and whether he does this quickly and correctly,' Selvamurthy said. Hardware for the system has been developed using technology employed in aircraft flight simulators. 'The system's software has a new feature of recording the complete flight data of the candidate so that any variables of flying skills can be easily extracted,' the scientist pointed out.

CBCA measures intelligence. Cognition refers to all those mental processes that are involved in the acquisition, storage, retrieval and application of information - both real and imaginary. 'CBCA measures a wider spectrum of cognition and is not only restricted to the measurement of reasoning as done by earlier intelligence assessments. It will measure different dimensions of cognitions like attention, memory, problem solving, decision making, reasoning and concept formation,' Selvamurthy explained.