Awarded to an individual, a group, team or organisation, which has made an outstanding, original and practical contribution leading to the safer operation of aircraft or the survival of aircrew or passengers.
2018 awarded to: Dr Donough Wilson
Dr Donough Wilson is innovation lead for advanced artificial intelligence focused military and civil future cockpits, and augmented intelligence cyber-physicalflight control, mission management and combat management systems, at aviation and defence innovation consultants, VIVID/futureVision.
As an instrument rated commercially licenced flight instructor of over 30 years and 3000+ hours experience; a specialist in aviation human factors; a very experienced CGI digital visual information designer; and a pioneer in shared-intelligence human / machine flight control interfaces, Dr Wilson’s contributions to the future of global aviation safety and cockpit design have been significant.
He was the first to propose (at RAeS/CEAS conference) the protocols for the autonomous satellite tracking and download of aircraft black-box flight data and cockpit voice recorder data to the computers of aviation authorities and accident investigators, triggered when an airliner diverges from its assigned track and altitude by a specific exceedance of allowable pilot error (having first unsuccessfully alerted the crew to the divergence) – a proposal which gained significant traction following the loss of Air France flight A447 and Malaysian Airlines MH370, and which has now gone into development. His revolutionary design for the defence system protecting ultra-low flying military aircraft against high-powered asymmetric pulse energy and laser energy attack was the preferred choice for onward development.
Dr. Wilson’s passion is aviation safety. In a research and development programme spanning, to date, over eighteen years, he was the first to challenge long held aviation legacy conventions when defining the five intrinsically linked factors inherent to all controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control (LoC) aviation disasters. This work, which continues, highlights and addresses the causal issues underpinning the frailty of human decision making when in unnatural and alien environments such as a violent, turbulent, tropical thunderstorm in IMC at night. This work explains the root physiological human factors causes of ‘pilot error’ and why accidents happen – with two key outcomes being that cognitive failure (and the associated bewilderment), are factors in all fatal CFIT and LoC incidents; and that they are not a reflection of an individual’s weakness or failing. Cognitive degradation is a natural consequence of human evolution; a factor of a relict defence mechanism passed on to us genetically from our earliest human ancestors – and over which no pilot has any control, because no amount of training can overcome 5+ million years of human evolution. The consequences of this is that, when certain events conspire, every human, including every pilot, could be susceptible to the physiological factors causing CFIT or LoC.
In defining a solution, Dr. Wilson argues that the design of flight control instruments have long been based on the [erroneous] assumption that the pilot is always capable of lucid thought and the ability to extract and mentally process information – no matter what the meteorological extremes encountered. He also argues that some glass-cockpit flight control instruments are too closely allied to the mechanical instruments they’ve replaced – being mainly digital replications of mechanical instrument forms, and as such, retaining inherent issues of the mechanical originals: issues known to have been factors in fatal loss of control and control reversal accidents.
Addressing these issues, Dr. Wilson was the first to propose that the process of military and commercial aviation (and much corporate aviation), is ‘narrative’ based. There being a strict linear sequence – a narrative – of distinct individual phases, each of which has individual control and information needs, even in diversion and emergency scenarios. He was the first to propose completely new visually integrated variable intensity pilot / aircraft interface displays; highly intuitive congruent displays which require no pilot calculations, mental interpretation, or any extensive training to operate, and which enable two-way joint control and communication between human and machine. In the latest development of this work, he is the first to propose the integration of aircraft-wide cyber-physical systems and embedded artificial intelligence (AI), enabling the aircraft itself to monitor adherence to the required 3D trajectory, so that the aircraft itself becomes part of the flight management and control team, with an interest (albeit artificial) in its own survival and the safe outcome of the flight – whatever meteorological extremes are encountered. The core objective of this is not to take the pilot out of the process of flight, but to take pilot-error out of the process of flight.
Dr. Wilson is the leading innovator and advocate for future ‘shared intelligence’ digital cockpits where pilot, cyber-physical technology, and AI work as a team to ensure optimum 3D flight, mission delivery, and approach accuracy; optimum fuel economy; minimum environmental impact; and above all, absolute flight safety. He continues to present extensively at aviation industry conferences on new game-changing thinking to develop next-generation aircraft which provide absolute passenger safety and eliminate any potential for CFIT or LoC.
For his outstanding practical contribution leading to the safer operation of aircraft, Dr Donough Wilson is awarded the Sir James Martin Award.
1968/69 Lieutenant Commander Tarver
1969/70 Flight Lieutenant R C Shuster
1971 Not Awarded
1971/72 Group Captain J K Mason
1973 Not Awarded
1973/74 Colonel W P Schane
1975 Not Awarded
1975/76 Group Captain A J Barwood
1976/77 E L Ripley Esq
1977/78 Flight Sergeant D J Jones
1978/79 D Johnson Esq
1979/80 Lieutenant Commander D R Taylor MBE
1980/81 Master Air Loadmaster David Bullock G C (posthumously)
1981/82 Geoffrey Harrison Esq
1983 Not Awarded
1983/84 Clifford Gaskell Esq
1985 Not Awarded
1985/86 Wing Commander R McCluskey AFC RAF
1987 Not Awarded
1987/88 Air Vice-Marshal P H Howard
1989 Not Awarded
1989/90 Lieutenant Commander Paul Barton RN
1991 - 1992 Not Awarded
1992/93 John W Chappelow Esq1994 Not Awarded
1994/95 Flight Lieutenant Kevin A Brooks
1995/96 Lieutenant Commander Paul Haywood RN
1997 Not Awarded
1997/98 Major J Norman Ryan MC
1998/99 Dr Christopher Brooks, OMM,OstJ,CD,MBChB,DavMed,FFOM
1999/2000 Air Accidents Investigation Branch Lockerbie Team
2000/01 Chief Petty Officer Terrence Allison
2001/02 Lieutenant Commander Clive Rawson RN2003 Not Awarded
2003/04 Squadron Leader Jonathan James Harrison RAF
2004/05 Professor Helen Christine Muir OBE MA PhD CPsychol FRAeS
2005/06 John Freeman
2006/07 Captain John Cox2008 Not Awarded
2008/09 Flight Lieutenant Emily Rickards RAF
2009/10 David Cockburn
2010/11 Captain Linc Alexander
2011/12 Major K E Bryan AAC
2013 Not Awarded
2013/14 Captain James Cunningham AAC
2014/15 Captain Mark Chesney
2016 The Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Research Project Team
2018 Dr Donough Wilson