Following analysis of data from many accidents, review of years of human factors research, and piloted simulations, Skow and Reynolds determined that the common taxonomy in these accidents was a loss of airspeed that is unnoticed by the pilots.
The unnoticed loss of airspeed can be attributed to two primary underlying causes:
1. Over reliance on or over-confidence in automation, resulting in complacency
Humans are not well-suited to the task of actively monitoring a parameter being controlled by a high-authority automatic system - no matter how important the parameter is. Vigilance reduces, complacency results. All human pilots are susceptible to this.
2. low situational awareness
Because automatic systems have proliferated the flight decks of modern aircraft, pilots have transitioned from being ‘aviators’ to ‘systems managers’, touching the stick on average just 3.5 minutes out of an entire flight. This has led to an erosion of airmanship skills, and a degraded ability to correctly assess the situation when things go wrong.
Recognizing the importance of improving energy state awareness, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), and other aviation safety organizations have championed the development of low-speed alerting systems for new and existing commercial aircraft. As part of this effort they've developed design guidelines and recommendations for would-be technology solutions. The guidelines have four core components.
1. The alert should come on early
2. The alert meaning should be unambiguous
3. the alert shouldn't produce false alarms
4. THE SYSTEM SHOULD EASILY RETROFIT into EXISTING AIRCRAFT
With a deep understanding of the problem at hand and guidance from industry safety experts, Skov Aero set about designing algorithms and intuitive display formats for an effective energy state monitoring system to reduce the rate of approach/landing and loss of control accidents in business/corporate and commercial aviation. Prototypes were built and successfully tested, and international patents applications were submitted. The result (and flagship product) is called the Q-Alpha Flight Energy Awareness Display.