Door Lock Controls for Armless Pilots

Project number: 
Rightfooted Foundation, supported by the Craig M Berge Dean's Community Fund
Academic year: 

Jessica Cox is a graduate of the University of Arizona and the world’s first armless pilot. She initially trained in and currently flies an Ercoupe. This airplane does not have rudder pedals, which allows Jessica to control the airplane and work the radios/navigation equipment with her feet. Jessica and her husband are currently working on building a Van’s RV10, a larger, 4-seat airplane that is faster and more capable than an Ercoupe. Last year a senior design team successfully developed a control system that allowed for 6-axis control of the airplane using foot pedals that also allow Jessica to control the navigation aids and radios. There are numerous additional modifications that need to be made to facilitate safe use of this airplane. This year the project will involve redesign of the door latching mechanism. The requirements will include the ability to open and close the doors with feet and specifically to allow for the ability to easily open the door from the inside in the case of emergency. In addition to making solo flight of the RV10 possible and safe for Jessica, there have been numerous instances of pilots forgetting to check that the doors are completely closed leading to loss of a door after take-off. This is clearly a dangerous problem. Redesign of the door locking mechanism may have widespread benefit for all pilots of this airplane.

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