EFX Illuminates Aviation Danger Zones

By Scott Spangler on October 21st, 2019

AV2-64Aviation danger zones exist in all phases of flight, and they most often catch people on the ground, especially when another task attenuates their situational awareness. Almost walking into a stationary prop protruding from the Innovation Showcase booth is how I met EFX Applied Technology at EAA AirVenture 2019. Instead of watching where I was going in the crowded venue, I was scanning the booths as I walked at the edge of the aisle—until a brightly colored flashing light in my peripheral vision stopped me short. Outlining a prop safety perimeter on the concrete, it said “We Save Lives.”

When I stopped and focused my attention, it seemed clear that given my proximity and direction of travel, one of the propeller blades was reaching for one of my more sensitive anatomical components. When I slowed my heart rate—and vowed to pay more attention to where I was going—I picked up some literature on the company whose tagline is “[DANGERZONE] See the light—Save a life.”

laser 1Unfortunately, the innovative coolness of EFX’s Interactive Personnel Alert Systems (iPAS) got lost in the multitude of my AirVenture memories. And then, little more than a week ago, I read about a woman who lost her right hand and two toes when she tried to remove the nose wheel chock of an idling Cessna 172 at Key West, Florida. According to reports, she and her husband, the pilot, were preparing for takeoff and got out of the Cessna to find out why it was not able to taxi.

My first reaction was one that many have but few readily admit: I would never do anything like that! (And, so far, I have, along with similar self-inflicted calamities of landing gear up and running out of gas.) But then I remembered my near encounter with the EFX display, and my heart started pounding as the memory snipped played in my mind’s eye.

It made sense that iPAS saved me because humans rely first on their vision, and our neural warning system has learned over the eons to pay attention to movement in our peripheral vision because it means some other member of the food chain might have us for lunch.

laser 2Identifying the threat is the first step in any fight-or-fight situation, and the small, lightweight laser system that outlines an aircraft’s danger zones does that, as well as laser painting the threat’s boundaries on the ground, day or night. Apparently the FAA was interested in the system as well, adding that it would fit well with the non-essential equipment path to certification.

Only time will tell if aviation will adopt this patented system that seems to be an effective last line of aviation safety. Safety training and reminders to never lose situational awareness are all good and necessary, but they will never overcome the blinders we wear when we’re addressing a more pressing problem. That’s when we need an alert of an imminent threat to break our narrow focus and preserve our safety. –Scott Spangler, Editor

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