Two F-16 Pilots Got Unconscious, Crash Avoidance Software Saves Them

Thankfully the aircraft was equipped with a ‘ground collision avoidance system’ hence came to play for saving the pilot’s life.

The incident happened in a fighter jet last year. The fighter aircraft was flying high above Nevada’s skies when both the pilot’s passed out. Fortunately, thanks to the built-in software technology, which saved them from crashing by pulling the pilot’s back to safety.

Both pilots regained their senses when their fighter jet was automatically lifting. The ground collision system kicked in when the aircraft was a few seconds to the collision. Once back conscious, both the pilots regained control of the aircraft.

As per the reports, both the pilots went through a G-LOC, or in other words, G-induced loss of consciousness, which often is experienced by fighter jet pilots.

GLOC happens often; hence fighter pilots are trained how to gain control in such scenarios. Pilots experience GLOC as a result when blood wants to rush out of their brain due to a sharp and fast turn. To fight such incidences, pilots wear special G suits and learn to handle the anti-G straining maneuver. The training is on how to use muscle and breathing exercises to restrain from passing out.

Despite the training, there are significant chances that these methods fail, and that is where auto GCAS comes into play to prevent a crash even if the pilot has lost sense of control. As per Lockheed Martin spokesperson, the software has saved 10 F-16 jets and 11 pilots to date.

The ground collision avoidance system

The crash saving software was developed by Lockheed Martin and is now installed in the majority of the F-16’s and F-35’s. The software saves pilots from GLOC related loss of senses.

As per Popular Science, both the Nevada incidence pilots were saved because of the crash prevention software.

Lockheed Martin said that its software system is developed using complex collision avoidance and automatic decision-making algorithms. It uses “precise navigation, aircraft performance, and on-board digital terrain data to decide if a ground collision is imminent.”

If the system tracks an imminent collision, it performs a set of maneuver rolls to balance the wings. It has a +5g pull at its end.

A short video declassified by the U.S Air Force in 2016 demonstrates another incident where an F-16 pilot loses consciousness — it’s easy to track the moment software comes to play and force the aircraft upwards.

The jet’s fall was sudden, which usually happens in the G-Loc situation. However, luckily, the ground collision system was activated and saved the day. It is impressive to watch how crash-saving software technology kicks within four seconds of losing control.

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