The Operator Performance Laboratory conducts research on human-in-the-loop and intelligent autonomous systems to increase efficiency, inter-operability, and safety. Systems of particular interest include flight decks, airborne sensor systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems, and automotive user interface systems. Flight deck technology of interest includes Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS), Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS), Head Up Displays (HUDs), and Head Worn Displays (HWD), along with optimized symbology sets. Integration of airborne sensor systems such as imaging sensors, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), and RADAR provides for an extension of human vision towards enhancing situation awareness and capabilities. Our emerging UAV systems work focuses on airborne inter-operability and ground station design by leveraging knowledge from the flight deck research area. Also, the application of Intelligent Avionics Systems (IAS) gives the UAV autonomous behaviors that allow for perception of situations for autonomous decision making and support on the basis of sensor data. The OPL performs research on a diverse array of platforms, including fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, instrumented vehicles, and earth-moving machines.

Research Facilities:


The OPL operates a flight operations research hangar at the Iowa City Municipal Airport (KIOW). The flight ops hosts the Computerized Airborne Research Platform (CARP), an A36 Bonanza, the 737 simulator, the Bonanza simulator, the instrumented Lexus, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) simulator, and the electronics and mechanical workshops.  OPL recently acquired an Aero Vodochody L-29 for high dynamics flight research.  OPL has also developed a Mobile Ground Station to integrate data into the Federated Distributed Mission Operations Framework.

Flight Simulators

The OPL operates a number of flight simulators. The 737 simulator at the OPL flight ops provides a test bed for commercial and large business jet platforms. The GAWS simulator simulates General Aviation aircraft. The Rotorcraft simulator located at the Engineering Research Facility (ERF) acts as a rotary-wing simulation facility complete with brown-out capability.