Cockpit can respond to pilot's voice

A SIMULATOR of a military aircraft cockpit which responds to voice commands - provided it recognises the pilot's voice - will be on show at next week's Farnborough air show, writes Christopher Bellamy.

But GEC-Marconi, who build the simulator, admit that voice control is not ideal for all applications. 'Speech recognition is good for making digital inputs,' said Jerry Fisher, marketing director for GEC Avionics, one of more than 600 aerospace firms with exhibits at next week's show. 'You can switch from navigation to attack mode, switch the radio on to a new frequency, select weapons. But it's bad at analogue inputs - turning left, finding a point on a map. Touch is much better.'

The simulator represented a future ground-attack aircraft, but there was no reason why it could not be applied to civil aircraft.

In military aircraft, aircrew are one of the most expensive components. If the crew can be kept down to one, and many of the functions of a second crew member performed by a 'robot' - a semi-intelligent cockpit - that is probably cost effective.

The cockpit automates routine tasks, allowing the pilot to concentrate on tactical decisions.