Hypoxia results from unprotected exposure above certain altitudes. Defined as an insufficient supply of oxygen to the body’s tissues, hypoxia insidiously affects the central nervous system and organs. The most dangerous aspect of hypoxia is that the victim may lose the ability for critical judgment before detecting any impairment. Hypoxia is particularly dangerous for an aircraft crew when there is a slow, progressive increase in altitude or a sudden exposure to high altitude.
NASA’s Jan Zysko, an engineer at Kennedy Space Center, developed the personal cabin pressurization monitor, a personal safety device that alerts the user to dangerous or deteriorating cabin pressure, which could lead to hypoxia, based on the limits prescribed in the Federal Aviation Regulations. The technology alerts the user when a programmed cabin pressure altitude is reached, or 30 minutes between the two altitudes. NASA applied for and received a U.S. patent on the invention. The invention also received several awards, including NASA’s Invention of the Year in 2004.
Aviation Technology, Inc., of Del Mar, California, has recently licensed the patent from NASA. The company is developing a basic model of the technology that features a small monitor with an integrated alarm and LED annunciation that will sound and flash a super-bright LED when cabin pressure is approaching or exceeds a maximum safe operating altitude. The monitor has a sleep mode and will only “awaken” and sound when pressure is outside the safe limit. There are plans to develop an enhanced Pro model based on market demand and customer feedback. The initial model will be introduced to industry in 2012.
Aviation Technology, Inc. has marketing connections within the aviation field, both commercial and private. In addition, they have a history of working with many successful aviation businesses at various locations around the world. Aviation Technology intends to market the Personal Cabin Pressurization Monitor within the industry to these before expanding to pilot supply companies, commercial airlines, and aviation schools.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center I volume 4 number 2 I fall/winter 2011