In the Wings — giving pilots the information to victory

Shake n Bake
4 min readMar 22, 2021

Hello, I am Kazuhiro Tobita and a third-year Computer Science and Business student. I am very happy to write and share about motor vehicles!

Have you ever heard of air racing? I watched the Red Bull Air Race every year on TV, and Actually, I went to the final race in Japan with friends in 2018.

In this blog, I would like to introduce how air racing tactics, also known as the Formula One of the skies, are being developed.

Rules

(Image from https://www.matthallracing.com/mhr-team/about-red-bull-air-race/)

In a nutshell, the objective is to navigate an aerial racetrack with air-filled pylons in the fastest time, incurring as few penalties as possible. In the red bull air race, pilots obtain World Championship points at each race, and the pilot with the most points at the end of the season is crowned Red Bull Air Race World Champion.

For more information, visit the official website below.

https://airrace.redbull.com/en/rules

Pilots fly a single-engine, single-seat race plane; they need to fly as fast as possible with as few mistakes as possible on a dedicated race track with air-injected pylons.

Flight Technology

An aircraft is equipped with four parameters because the official regulates that the maximum G-load of 10G must not be exceeded. Neither must the bank angle when crossing a gate (±10°) nor the start speed limit of 200 knots (370kph) when entering the Start Gate.

  1. Air-Speed Indicator (ASI)
  2. Peripheral Vision Indicator (PVI)
  3. Altimeter
  4. Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS)

An air-speed indicator (ASI) is a device for measuring the forward speed of the aircraft. Air-speed is typically measured in knots (nautical miles per hour). It is usually indicated on a speed tape that is part of the Electronic Flight Instrument System display in modern aircraft.

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Air_Speed_Indicator

A peripheral vision indicator (PVI) is an indicator that can measure acceleration, altitude and velocity. Once in the truck, the PVI will display the gravity level measured by the gravity meter in the EFIS. The colour of the LED lets the pilot know immediately how much gravity he/she is pulling.

An electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) is a flight deck instrument display system that displays flight data electronically rather than electromechanically.

An altimeter is a device that measures altitude. A pilot receives a penalty if his/her race aircraft flies at too high or too low an altitude (+2 seconds) in the air race.

According to Álvaro Navas, Sports Technical Manager at Red Bull Air Race in the official website, The telemetry system requires a central unit known as the EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System), which is a standard navigation system for aviation that has been heavily customised for use in highly high dynamics; external sensors are also included to boost estimating and tracking capabilities, as well as a telemetry antenna, a GPS antenna, a link with engine monitoring, and a Peripheral Vision Indicator (PVI) for speed and an aural G-indicator.

How to be related with Information system

Flying an aeroplane is so tricky that pilots must rely on their expert tacticians to help them find the best racing lines on the track; telemetry in the Red Bull Air Race comes with significant tracking and evaluation challenges compared with other ground-based motorsports.

The job involves more than just analysing data to decide the best way across a racetrack; they suggest their pilots new flying and training methods and improve the plane and its modifications and investigate all they can do to get faster.

In an article of Paulo I scold, who contributed to the success of retired three-time World Champion Paul Bonhomme and now is Team Chambliss’ tactician, he describes that a tactician is not a one-person job.

He collaborates with outside experts and co-developed some tools to visualise and analyse all the lines flown by the plane during the Free Practice sessions.

Also, he programs a tool to simulate the plane in the race environment by himself, such as taking the coordinates of the track and trying to find the best line to go between the gates. “The goal is to provide a briefing package that shows Michael the optimal line for various conditions, and also options he might consider to balance the risk of a pylon hit or other penalty with speed”, he says.

Race planes collect data for each flight, and tacticians enter information into analysis systems such as plane weight, wind speed and direction, temperature, and even pilot reaction time to prepare for or change for potential problems. Tacticians may recommend line changes on Race Day and even between rounds because data is available so quickly.

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In conclusion, I found that thanks to tacticians, who analyse and figure out the fastest line to fly using quantitative data, pilots in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship can give a big fan their brilliant flying performance, and it leads to make the race more exciting and enhance the overall safety in motorsports.

Reference

https://airrace.redbull.com/en/news/exploring-limits

https://airrace.redbull.com/es/node/728

https://airrace.redbull.com/en/news/role-tactician

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