Second Tech Talk Sparks Energy with New Aerospace Transportation Technologies
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Those who tuned in to the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center’s (MMAC) second quarterly virtual Tech Talk were entreated to a treasure trove of futuristic information. The event took place on October 29th, using Zoom webinar, and featured the ever-inspiring Dr. Melchor Antuñano, Director of the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, (CAMI) as the keynote speaker. He did not disappoint in sharing material regarding new aerospace transportation technologies.

CAMI is a vital partner and tenant of the Aeronautical Center, and the work they do brings credit to the agency and our nation’s standing in the world. Their mission is to assure civil aerospace safety through excellence in aeromedical/human factors research, and occupational health services. There are 215 federal employees and over 80 contractors that work in CAMI; the workforce is comprised of Physicians, Engineers, Medical Specialists, Instructional Designers and Administrative personnel. Additionally, there are Researchers (PhDs) who are working to keep our aerospace safe, namely: Psychologists, Geneticists, Toxicologists, Chemists, and Physiologists among others.

Dr. Melchor Antuñano - Director, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute

Doctor Antuñano (also known as "Dr. A") enthusiastically delivered his presentation about aerospace transportation technologies and how humans are impacted by various factors and interactions with equipment and environments. Typical research over the years has been done regarding the cockpit aircrew environments, survival in different environments after plane crashes, spatial disorientation, hypoxia, or egress of passengers from aircraft (to name a few), but in recent times, more research is being focused on human factors and operational performance of aviation and space crews. Living and working in space is no longer something you see in science fiction. It is a reality. Space tourism will allow civilians to travel into outer-space, and is no longer limited to astronauts with the "Right Stuff."

Dr. A shared a fascinating look into the relationship between the human and aviation equipment, and how training can prevent accidents from happening. He also shared images of new wide body transport aircraft, and some concepts that may make windowless cockpits a reality that would virtually increase a pilot’s field of view. Other innovations were shown like transparent walls, heat from passengers being used to power cabin facilities, pop-up virtual reality pods that would provide areas for in-flight entertainment, and flexible display panels that can be stuck to interior walls like wall paper with magnets (so passengers can see everything outside of the plane without looking through a small window).

Supersized flying boat for massive transport of passengers
Windowless cockpit concept

Additionally, he expounded upon various methods of travel, including: individual jet packs, flying cars, supersonic aircraft and space vehicles. Each of these means of travel have their own risk factors and impacts on the human body. The traditional understanding of the complex interactions between humans, machines and environment is evolving fast with the implementation of advanced medical technologies that can blur the differences between purely human and purely machine.

The Bell V-280 Tilt Rotor aircraft
Israeli Cormorant Urban Air Mobility craft

Dr. A provided many photos of some new aircraft like; the Bell V-280 tilt-rotor, various Very Light Jets, Solar Powered aircraft, Urban Air Mobility vehicles like the Israeli Cormorant, Hoverbikes, the CityHawk flying car, and personal flying machines like the Gryphon Flying Wing to name a few.

Gryphon Flying Wing
Interior walls of aircraft that depict external view
Supersonic commercial airplane

Dr. Antuñano has led the Institute since January 2001 and provides executive direction and administrative oversight of the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine’s programs in Medical Certification, Medical Education, Medical Research, Human Factors Research, and Occupational Health Services that are critical and integral elements of the Office of Aviation Safety. His knowledge and enthusiasm about aviation medicine is unparalleled.

MMAC Tech Talks are intended to showcase a variety of industry experts who are willing to share their insights, experience and discoveries as they relate to the aviation industry. These Talks offer a glimpse of where technology stands today, highlighting present trends in aviation and how those trends impact the way we live. They also explore problem-solving strategies using innovation and collaboration through cost effective measures. These quarterly Talks have been developed in order to facilitate the sharing of technological solutions for the Center’s and the world’s ever-changing needs. Though "Dr. A" is a tough act to follow, we’re looking forward to next quarter’s Tech Talk, which will take place sometime in January of 2021.

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