The Master's Trophy - North America Region

2022 ICARUS Devices

IMG1473From the earliest days of human flight, spatial disorientation accidents have plagued aviation. Aircraft have evolved immensely but pilots' vestibular and proprioceptive systems are still susceptible to false sensations that cause crashes which end in tragedy. Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IIMC) and marginal weather conditions have claimed scores of lives due to the startle effect. The technology for training aviators has not changed appreciably since 1929. A small team has set out to prevent these tragedies by improving training fidelity and allowing pilots to experience the startle effect as well as spatial disorientation before it turns deadly. This rapidly accelerates weather decision making capability.

The Instrument Conditions Awareness Recognition and Understanding System, or ICARUS, is a smart view-limiting device that is combating these accidents with more realistic training. It provides superior scenario-based training with a lightweight visibility changing visor and an easy-to-use app. ICARUS combines the control of a simulator with the inner ear sensations and “seat-of-the-pants” pressure that cannot be replicated on the ground. The instructor or safety pilot can adjust the actual level of visibility (2 miles, 1 miles, ½ mile, etc.) and speed at which the device’s PDLC visor becomes “cloudy”. ICARUS is extremely affordable and adaptable for use in any aircraft. It also trains pilots for smoke, dust, snow, and other obscurations.

The ICARUS Device went into production in 2022 and since then hundreds of pilots have trained better with ICARUS. This diverse initial group of pilots range from private single-engine airplane pilots to highly experienced rescue helicopter crews. In the year since its introduction, two separate ICARUS trained pilots were caught in unforecasted weather and both navigated the dangerous event to a safe landing, crediting the device with their survival. The device has just been approved for use by the US Army in Black Hawk helicopters and is in service with flight schools, colleges, private aviation operators, EMS, law enforcement, government agencies and more.

Inventor Nick Sinopoli designed the ICARUS Device after a close friend perished in a spatial disorientation accident. He sold his car to fund his patent which was granted in 2016. He holds an Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering degree from Purdue University and serves as a US Army National Guard Captain. He is a dual rated pilot with time in numerous airplanes and helicopters.

His business partner Erik Sabiston is an instructor pilot, aviation mechanic, best- selling author, freelance writer, legacy airline pilot and the founder of the charity His awards include the AAAA rescue of the Year, Goodrich Hoist Rescue of the Year, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor. He has graced the cover of Newsweek magazine “Heroes Issue” for saving lives in bad weather in Afghanistan and was named one of “History’s Greatest Pilots” in aviation author David Curnock’s book of the same title.


Previous Winners:

2011  Conair Group Inc.

2012  Boeing Company Training Systems and Government Services

2013  Bombardier Aerospace

2014  not awarded

2015  Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA)

2016  Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service

2017  Kenn Borek Air Ltd

2018  Coulson Aviation

2019  Cougar Helicopters Inc

2020  William "Bill" Alder Sealand Aviation Inc.

2021  Civil Air Patrol -- USAF Auxiliary

2022  ICARUS Devices


  • Since 1996, Bombardier Aerospace has staged annual Safety Standdown seminars worldwide.  Offered free-of-charge, these two- to four-day seminars target pilots of all aircraft types – regardless of the manufacturer.  Staged annually in Wichita, Geneva, Sao Paulo and Shanghai, they typically draw more than 450 corporate, commercial and military attendees.  Recognized by the U.S. Federation Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Safety Standdown is led by globally recognized and experienced aviation, medical, astronaut, meteorological, ethical and scientific experts and focus on the “Leading Edge” Safety Management, Human Factors (convergent performance) and Error Control program; a Fatigue Management (alertness solutions) system; and Upset Recovery Training (aviation performance).   In 2011, the Flight Safety Foundation awarded the Business Aviation Meritorious Service Award to Bombardier Aerospace for Safety Standdown.



  • Two Bombardier organizations are repeat recipients of the FAA’s prestigious Diamond Award of Excellence:  Bombardier Flexjet – the world’s second largest fractional ownership provider currently operating a fleet of some 85 aircraft – has been honored for 14 consecutive years.   Concurrently, Bombardier’s maintenance repair and overhaul organization (MRO) facilities have been recognized for more than a decade, spearheaded by 14 consecutive years of recognition for the Hartford Service Center.  In addition, Bombardier’s eight MRO facilities in the U.S. were recently awarded a 2012 Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Diamond Award Certificate of Excellence, recognizing Bombardier’s commitment to offering customers access to the most highly skilled workforce through an extensive training program. 



·         Bombardier Aerospace is a worldwide pioneer in developing Safety Management Systems, or SMS, for design and manufacturing organizations. It is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization Working Group that developed ICAO Annex 19, officially adopted by the ICAO Council in February 2013 – and the first new Annex          developed by ICAO in many years.    Additionally, Bombardier is a member of the steering group for the FAA’s new Aviation Rulemaking Committee on SMS, and a regular contributor to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) E-CAST team and was recently invited to join the FAA’s CAST group.