Military-issued watches have always been about offering solutions to real-world problems. Today’s story is a clear example of that. Last month, the US Navy announced its plan to issue Garmin Fenix 3 watches to all F/A-18 Hornet and E/A-18G Growler pilots. This push comes as there has been an increase in cockpit “physiological episodes,” with some flight crews suffering from near-Hypoxia as a result of badly designed oxygen systems and poorly positioned altimeters that are hard to read.
That’s where the Garmin Fenix 3 comes in. It features an altimeter function that can warn a pilot when the cabin altitude reaches a certain threshold preset. This would let them know to put on their supplemental oxygen or decrease the plane’s altitude to a safe level. Whether pilots are actually wearing these watches or mounting them to the cockpit is unclear, but with an auditory alert from the Garmin likely being useless in a noisy cockpit environment, a clear line of sight off the wrist certainly makes sense. That said, the Garmin also has a vibration setting, so if worn against the skin, a pilot should be able to feel the alert on his wrist. Our own Brandon Cripps, who is familiar with military aviation operations, explained that jet drivers often wear their sleeves cuffed so this is certainly a possibility.These haven’t gone through official Naval Air Systems Command testing, so there are some uncertainties about their ultimate reliability. Still, the Navy is aiming to equip the entire squadron by August.
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