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DARPA Investigates EMF Exposure in Cockpits as it Relates to the Inexplicably Growing Number of Crashes

DARPA is Concerned that EMF Affecting Pilot's Cognitive Function

Are pilots being harmed by radio frequency and electromagnetic fields from all the high-powered electronics in their aircraft?

This is the question asked in a Forbes Magazine article this month, which continues saying, “The problem could be making pilots so disoriented that they crash their planes, fears DARPA, the Pentagon’s pet research agency”.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has recently announced a research project to determine the “Impact of Electro-Magnetics on Aircrew Neurology,” or ICEMAN, to see whether EMFs inside the cockpit may be causing pilots to crash. DARPA is currently accepting proposals and have allocated a budget of up to $225,000 for the research.

According to DARPA, the objective of the ICEMAN program is to “Determine if the current air combat cockpit environment impacts cognitive performance and/or physiological sensor performance; quantify the effects; and demonstrate potential mitigation strategies.”

Project ICEMAN Objective

Determine if the current air combat cockpit environment impacts cognitive performance and/or physiological sensor performance; quantify the effects; and demonstrate potential mitigation strategies.

The DARPA Impact of Cockpit Electro-Magnetics on Aircrew Neurology (ICEMAN) STTR effort aims to:

1) measure and manipulate the ambient EM field and RF noise in a typical cockpit,
2) measure potential effects of these electromagnetic stimuli on brain activity, physiology, and behavioral responses, and physiological sensing systems, and
3) demonstrate potential strategies to mitigate negative effects on aircrew neurology and sensor function.

Project ICEMAN Description

Current cockpits are flooded with radio frequencies (RF fields) from on-board emissions, communication links, and navigation electronics, including strong electromagnetic (EM) fields from audio headsets and helmet tracking technologies.

Pilots often report minor cognitive performance challenges during flight, and from 1993 to 2013, spatial disorientation in US Air Force pilots accounted for 72 Class A mishaps, 101 deaths, and 65 aircraft lost.

It has been hypothesized that the cockpit RF and EM fields may influence cognitive performance including task saturation, misprioritization, complacency and Spatial Disorientation.

However, EM fields and radio waves in cockpits are not currently monitored, little effort has been made to shield pilots from these fields, and the potential impacts of these fields on cognition have not been assessed.

Recent DARPA-funded research has demonstrated that human brains sense magnetic fields, like those used by animals for navigation, and that this process is “jammed” (i.e., disrupted) by radio waves (RF), impacting brainwaves and behavior.

Furthermore, recent findings were the first to show that even weak RF fields and “earth strength” magnetic fields have measurable, reproducible effects on human brainwaves and unconscious behavior in a controlled environment.

Current tactical audio headsets project magnetic fields up to 10 times earth strength, the effects of which can now be measured experimentally in a similar controlled environment. However, a need exists to assess these effects within a typical cockpit environment.

Furthermore, as research efforts are increasingly seeking to assess aspects of human performance and cognitive state characteristics (e.g., cognitive workload, stress, and trust) within operational environments such as cockpits, a need exists to determine what effect, if any, the cockpit RF/EM environment may have on physiological sensor function and efficacy

Read more about the ICEMAN program on the official DARPA site.

Aircraft Photo Credit: DARPA.mils

Editor Note: Special thanks to Certified EMF Expert Consultant Sharon Barr for her initial investigation of this topic.

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Chris Young

Chris has been a licensed Professional Electrical Engineer for over 40 years, practicing in nearly half the States in the USA and serving as CEO of Executive Engineering Services for companies dedicated to making electrical power safer for people. His areas of professional expertise include utility, industrial, commercial and government entities, as well as private homes and work places. Though Chris was once an avid electronic technophile working in a corporate WiFi cloud, with constantly ringing cellphones holstered on each hip accommodating the 30 international engineering services offices reporting directly to him, his growing concern for Electrosmog, the consumer obliviousness to it, and the lack of expert understanding of biological hazards along with the lack of health-minded safety standards to deal with it, prompted him to retire early in order to devote his expertise to being part of the bigger solution - living with our technology safely and using it knowledgeably. Today, in addition to his highly respected training of worldwide Certified EMF Expert Consultants. Chris serves on the IEEE committees reviewing EMF safety standards, and he is a highly sought after leading authority on EMF Detection and Protection.

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One Comment

  1. My husband was F-4 backseat pilot for 22 yrs, his flight helmet had wires in both ear pieces. He came out service deaf in on ear and half deaf in other ear. He never complained. He worked at Edwards Air force Base in CA for 10 yrs Testing RF radiation signals and he told me that in the cold war the Russians would jam their F-4 Phantom with Radar. He was a Lt Col retired and a good looking man when I met him in 2004, and he was having panic attacks and mental break downs. Later he was diagnosed with Schizoid Effective Bi-Polar Disorder, and told he had 3 tumor masses in one ear.

    I still cry every day for this kind man. He was a genius, a Ghost writer for the Pentagon, and in storage after his passing I found a Letter from Bill Clinton and so many awards. He was a loved man by every culture in the military. Thank you for letting me share. A grieving wife for ever.

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