Airplane safety is key for Scientist Eri Itoh, who discusses the next generation in airline safety measures, and the benefit of fusing the high-tech with the human senses.
Let’s compare driving a car to flying an aircraft. When a person drives a car, that person has windows on every side through which he can see surrounding car traffics. He has mirrors to use to better see behind the car and to the sides. And he has his own peripheral vision to use to sense what is around him. Not so when piloting an aircraft! Pilots are quite literally flying blind. They are not able to grasp surrounding aircraft through windows in cockpit. Pilots must fly following the instructions of air traffic controllers, who check the air traffic information via radar displays on the ground. However in the future, pilots would have the means to see what is around them just as the drivers of cars do. Dr. Itoh conducts research into a next-generation air traffic management, Aircraft Surveillance Applications System (ASAS), which will help pilots to better understand the surroundings of the aircraft, as well as improve safety and fuel efficiency. Her current research includes running large-scale simulations of future air traffic to verify the efficacy and safety of ASAS. To this research Dr. Itoh brings vast experience and training. She obtained her PhD from The University of Tokyo in 2007, and currently holds a position of a senior researcher with the Electronic Navigation Research Institute (ENRI), which is the only laboratory in Japan conducting research on air traffic management. She moved to France as a research fellow in the Eurocontrol Experimental Centre (EEC) in 2006, and is currently a visiting researcher at both the National Aerospace Laboratory NLR in The Netherlands and The University of Tokyo. The recipient of the prestigious McCarthy Award and John J. Green Award, Dr. Itoh has been a standing member of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) since 2010. For those whose job it is to fly the planes, and for those of us who are passengers in the planes, Dr. Itoh’s work is a gift, not only for our own safety, but also for the future of commercial flight as we know it.