Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IAF goes hi-tech for pilot selection


Vijay Mohan


The IAF is changing over to a new computerised system of selecting pilots that now does away with the earlier manual and subjective procedures for judging a candidate’s aptitude and reflexes. As a pilot project, the DRDO has installed three such systems at the IAF’s service selection boards located in Allahabad, Varanasi and Mysore.

According to Dr W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, DRDO, the IAF has placed an order worth about Rs 20 crore for additional such systems to be installed at its selection centres. These are expected to be in place within six months.

Each system has multiple nodes and can screen up to 100 individuals at a time. According to information released by the Ministry of Defence last month, the number of officers joining the IAF in the last three years was 463, 485 and 401, respectively.

“In today's environment, a fighter pilot is not just a flier, but a systems manager required to execute multiple tasks in an extremely short-time span, Dr Selvamurthy told The Tribune during a visit here. “The new system tests the time-sharing and workload management skills of candidates, whereas the older procedures were restricted to evaluating the coordination between the mind, limbs and eyes,” he added.

The system is based upon a simulated cockpit mock-up into which flight parameters and other information such as fuel state are fed. A candidate virtually flies an aircraft and his mental and physical responses and reflexes are recorded and analysed by specially developed software.

The system, according to experts, measures a wider spectrum of cognitive processes and is not only restricted to the measurement of reasoning as done by earlier intelligence assessments. It will measure different dimensions of cognitions like attention, memory, problem solving, decision-making, reasoning and concept formation.
It has taken the DRDO about six years to develop this system. The IAF was also closely associated with the project.

www.tribuneindia.com

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