The Aviation Safety Laboratory was established in 1983 primarily to test the adverse effects of various drugs and medications of aviators' performance. Over the past decade we have tested such effects using compounds such as marijuana, alcohol and nicotine. Studies have been funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the National Institue of Aging and private industry. The current simulator is a Frasca 141 with visual by Dell Precision Workstations, OpenGL, Fedora and Nvidia. Precise real time quantification of performance is obtained on a number of vital pilot-performance measures.
The three visuals above provide an interesting historical perspective on the progress of visual simulation over the last decade. The original SGI visual ran at 8-12 fps with very limited graphics. We moved to simple Dell workstations and Linux. Now, several years later the simulation runs at 12-15 fps with probably 1000x more realism. The final visual shows the simulation under development on a Dell precision workstation laptop where it now runs at over 30 fps. These new visuals are being used in a series of experiments about the interaction of age and expertise in older pilots performing instrument approachs in marginal visual consitions.
Most recently we are funded by the National Institute of Aging to examine the effects of age on pilot performance. This study is being conducted to shed light upon the "Age-60 Rule". This controversial FAA rule requires the retirement from pilot-in-command duties of air-transport pilots when they reach age 60. Further information about current studies of aging and performance may be obtained from Dr. Joy Taylor via e-mail.
Articles by Dr. Taylor:
A 2000 article on the relationship of Cogscreen testing battery to Simulator Performance.
A 2005 article on the relationship of Cognitive Abilities to Simulator Performance.
A 2007 article on the relationship of Expertise to Longitudinal Simulator Performance.
A 2010 article on the relationship of Processing Speed to Longitudinal Simulator Performance.
An older article about the "Age 60" study from Stanford Medicine.
A May 2007 presentation on the "Age 60" rule on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer.
A February 2007 Story from our friends at KTVU (Channel 2) on the Age 60 Rule
Additional extensive studies are have been done examining the effects of alcohol and nicotine on pilot performance at all ages. Further information about previous studies of alcohol and performance may be obtained from Martin Mumenthaler via e-mail. These studies are supported in part by the Alcohol Beverages Medical Research Foundation and the Swiss Foundation for Alcohol Research (Schweizerische Stiftung fuer Alkoholforschung).
Key personnel in the Laboratory are Dr. Yesavage and Dr. Joy Taylor.
Thanks to the Stanford Flying Club whose instructors taught Dr. Yesavage to fly and have provided continued expertise to enhance the realism of simulated flight activities.
Revised April 29, 2008.