Spatial Disorientation Still a Concern According to Aviation Medical Community

By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | December 5, 2014
Send Feedback

While pilots now have much more information at their disposal through increasingly complex aircraft systems, whether in the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon or an AH-64 Apache, spatial disorientation is still a danger that most aircrew will encounter. 

Although modern aircraft are very safe, human performance can be a factor that leads to unsafe situations, particularly when the pilot experiences information overload in a short period of time. This can lead to something know as “helmet fire” – basically a pilot becomes task-saturated, which can lead to a loss of situational awareness.

Aviation medical specialists have gathered at the 4th Spatial Disorientation & Night Vision Training Workshop to discuss issues within this subject. The two-day conference, titled The Human Factor: Enhancing Human Performance through Simulation, began today in Salzburg, Austria, and has attracted more than 80 representatives and delegates connected to aviation medicine, particularly within the military, from 22 countries including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Russia, the United States, and several nations within Europe.


Spatial disorientation is a factor that affects not only supersonic aircraft pilots but also rotary-wing pilots. During the first morning, the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Royal Air Force, and the German Air Force gave presentations on their own approaches to aircrew training on spatial disorientation.

The conference is sponsored by AMST, an Austrian organization involved in the research and design of equipment for aeromedical and aircrew training. 

Receive the latest rotorcraft news right to your inbox