Based on air crew and market feedback, Terma has identified a need for improvements on most aircraft intercom systems, to better and more efficiently support the increased and improved information from e.g. the aircraft self-protection systems as well as to support the air crews by reducing the workload, improving situational awareness/survivability, reducing hearing loss/fatigue, and improving speech intelligibility.
Many legacy intercom systems are old analog mono systems, which have not been upgraded over decades of use. To ensure sufficient audio performance and introduce new game changing capabilities, Terma developed a set of audio components based on leading edge technologies, and those components, now in full-scale production, are key elements in tailored solutions for various aircraft.
Programs such as the Danish F-16 Missile Warner System upgrade program and the U.S. Army ADAS Program (see details in article “Terma Update ADAS”) are two examples which utilize the Terma aircraft audio upgrade.
Image courtesy: U.S. Air Force
Terma’s digital audio solutions offer a range of benefits to the air crews – these benefits include:
Air crew feedback shows that with 3D-Audio cues, the workload is reduced due to the fact that the pilots are intuitively aware of threat directions without having to interpret audio or visual information. Furthermore, legacy audio systems require the air crew to continuously adjust audio volume for each radio, in order to obtain the optimum speech intelligibility and prioritization of communication - with radio separation, they can have optimum intelligibility without having to make adjustments. As more radios are added to the aircraft, this capability will become even more essential to the air crews.
Improved Situational Awareness and Survivability
Using the 3D-Audio cuing, the situational awareness and thereby survivability of the air crew will be improved through an instant directional perception of e.g. missile approach-warnings from the EW sensor systems, whereby the reaction time will be improved and critical time for maneuvering added.
Reduced Hearing Loss and Fatigue
Using the legacy fighter helmets, pilots often use earplugs to lower the risk of hearing damage. The Terma audio solutions provide a significant improvement to hearing protection through introduction of Active Noise Reduction (ANR) technology and enhanced passive noise attenuation. From an operational point of view, these capabilities have proven essential, especially during long missions where the continuous exposure to noise causes air crew fatigue.
Improved Speech Intelligibility and Flight Safety
By combining a digital audio solution, Radio Separation, Active Noise Reduction, Electrical Noise Reduction, and improved passive attenuation, the overall speech intelligibility and thereby also flight safety is improved.
Based on Terma’s unique digital audio solutions and the Terma know-how within acoustics, systems engineering, integration expertise and audio solutions, the Terma audio solutions can be adapted to provide a solution which meets the specific user requirements as well as the required adaption to specific platforms. The key functionalities are outlined below:
Cautions and Warnings
Auditory cautions and warnings are embedded and can be triggered via simple commands and/or discrete signals from the subsystems. They can be presented as standard monaural or 3D-Audio, depending on system configuration.
Dedicated ANR Solutions
Terma has a number of implementations for specific platforms and/or helmet types, as described in more detail under Active Noise Reduction. The ANR technology is capable of attenuating the low-frequent noise in the cockpit and cabin area.
Options for Voice Commands
Speech Recognition (or Direct Voice Input) is an option which allows the user to control and change parameters by simply issuing spoken commands like "Radio, frequency, one two four five". The speaker independent node-based system is tailored to the individual platform, with respect to vocabulary and language.
The Terma developed components which form the baseline of aircraft audio upgrades are specified and qualified to relevant MIL-STD's (refer to data sheets in the Downloads section), where applicable.