ICARUS IFR Training Device Delivered to Antarctica

The device, which simulates marginal VFR, is now in use on all seven continents, the company said.

The ICARUS Device is a smart, view-limiting device made of a PDLC film that the pilot wears in front of their eyes, either clamped onto a headset or clipped into a flight helmet. [Courtesy: ICARUS]

Instrument pilot trainees on all seven continents now have the opportunity to improve the quality of their instruction using the ICARUS Smart View Limiting Device. 

Nick Sinopoli, the inventor of the ICARUS Device, a high-tech view limiting device, knew this only too well after losing a friend in an aviation accident in 2016.

ICARUS was introduced to the training environment three years ago and is now used around the world by both the military and private sector.

The company recently delivered an ICARUS Device to Helicopter Resources, a company that provides services to government organizations in Antarctica. The area is about 40 percent larger than Europe and about as remote as can be imagined. There are no roads, so helicopters are crucial to bringing in provisions for the 5,000 who live there as part of various research operations.

About the Device

The name ICARUS is an acronym, standing for Instrument Conditions Awareness Recognition and Understanding System. Sinopoli, who is rated in both helicopters and airplanes and holds an engineering degree from Purdue University, designed the device so that visibility is gradually reduced. It almost sneaks up on a pilot, just as it often happens in the real world and sometimes leads to accidents when the pilot loses situational awareness, especially in marginal VFR.

How It Works

According to Sinopoli, the ICARUS Device is made of a polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) film that the pilot wears in front of their eyes, either clamped onto a hat or headset or clipped into a flight helmet. 

The PDLC is battery powered, and the device is paired with an app controlled by the flight instructor. The instructor can degrade the visual conditions gradually, allowing the client to experience the sensation of a sudden loss of outside visual cues while flying in the actual aircraft. 

There is also the option for the CFII to press a button to bring on clouds. The rate and amount of occlusion can also be adjusted by the instructor for a more realistic IFR experience, such as the sudden loss of outside references when marginal VFR turns into IFR.

According to the company, there are 500 ICARUS devices in use around the world in every kind of aircraft from a Cessna 172 to a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter.

The device sells for $1,250 and comes with a three-year warranty.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter