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DRDO develops once-in-lifetime test for IAF pilots

In three years from now, the IAF will shift to a new, advanced scientific tool to select pilots that will allow once-in-a-lifetime assessment of a candidate`s physical and cognitive abilities.

New Delhi: In three years from now, the IAF
will shift to a new, advanced scientific tool to select pilots
that will allow once-in-a-lifetime assessment of a candidate`s
physical and cognitive abilities.

The new system, called Computerised Pilot Selection
System (CPSS), developed by DRDO will replace the existing
Pilot Aptitude and Battery Test (PABT) that only considered
the psycho-motor (synchronisation of mind and limbs) abilities
of aspiring IAF pilots.
The IAF and DRDO today signed an agreement that envisaged
delivery of 80 such CPSS simulators along with 300 nodes for
cognitive tests to the Staff Selection Boards (SSB) situated
in Dehradun, Mysore and Allahabad at a cost of Rs 25 crore in
three years time.

"CPSS is a unique, path-breaking system in the world and
is the best of the best system for assessing the aptitude of
candidates for selection into the IAF`s fighter, transport and
helicopter flying streams," DRDO Chief Controller (Life
Sciences) Dr W Selvamurthy said.

Developed jointly by the Bangalore-based Aeronautical
Development Establishment (ADE) and Delhi-based Defence
Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), the project for
designing the CPSS began in 1998 and has fructified after 12
years of research by the two laboratories to prepare a
foolproof test.

"The development has taken this much time because of the
lengthy process involved in developing both the psycho-motor
and cognitive tests. We want to be sure the test is foolproof
so that once a candidate has gone through the CPSS and
failed, he or she cannot crack it again," Selvamurthy
The system, he said, came about through a collaboration
that the DRDO labs did with IAF over these 12 years right from
the time the system was conceived.

The DRDO teams also extensively studied 17 such systems
in use in countries such as US, UK, Germany, France, Israel,
China and Canada to adopt the best practices from them and
refined them to suit the Indian standards.

IAF`s Air Officer Personnel Air Marshal K J Mathews said
the CPSS would provide the best pilots and with cutting edge
manpower, the force may be able to reduce the number of
accidents, which is of major concern to it.

"People involved in warfare need to be cutting edge and
the best. We will be delighted to have the CPSS within the
three years time," he said.

Mathews also noted that the three SSB centres that
currently carry out pilot aptitude tests were working overtime
due to the huge number of candidates appearing for those tests
every year.

DRDO Chief Controller (Resource and Management) G
Elangovan, who had supervised the development of the simulator
for the CPSS in 2001-02, said three of the systems had first
been tried for a few years by the IAF on candidates to assess
its quality before it accepted the switch from PABT.
DIPR Director Dr Manas K Mandal said the change from PABT
to CPSS was necessary due to the hi-tech systems integrated
with the latest inventory of the aircraft in the IAF.

He said the cognitive test that was part of CPSS took
into account the candidate`s ability to quickly process
information be it verbal, numerical, vertical, non-vertical or
spatial and respond to it.

DRDO Chief Controller (Aerospace) Prahalada,
complimenting both the ADE and DIPR for the CPSS, said they
also need to consider if the tests need to be adapted to suit
both men and women, "as it is generally believed that women
were better in multi-tasking than men."


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