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Voice recognition in the cockpit

Fly For Fun
via Flickr
Cockpits can be confusing. Voice recognition for flight planning could cut down on mistakes.

Voice recognition technology is making its way into small aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration has given a company in New York’s capital region the green light on a new system that allows pilots to enter flight plans using their voice instead of turning knobs.

VoiceFlight Systems’ Duncan Pickard says the technology could make flying a little safer because pilots will be able to devote more attention to the flight instead of numbers and letters on a small screen.

“It’s been installed in a test aircraft. We have test-flown it. The FAA approved the design. We’re waiting for manufacturing approval. In six months to a year it could be in an aircraft near you,” said Pickard.

VoiceFlight Systems developed the idea in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute incubator in Troy, N.Y. The incubator has given many companies like Albany Molecular Research, Inc. their start.

FAA officials say this is the first voice recognition system of its kind in the United States. Spokesman Jim Peters says it’s been approved for installation in certain Cessna planes. He says the project is considered new and novel, which means it’s not fully commercial yet. He says the device may have a place in small passenger planes.

“This could be the first of many. The system improves the situational awareness of pilots. We could approve it for additional application in the future,” Peters said.

Innovation Trail alumnus Dan Bazile is former reporter for WMHT in Albany. He has covered a wide range of topics, from town board meetings, to the September 11th terrorist attacks.