Research Foundation News

September 25, 2019

Pilot safety training technology wins Air Force grant for app-based simulator

plane english PlaneEnglish, created by two Purdue University alumni, has received a $50,000 SBIR Phase I award, sponsored by the Air Force and AFWERX. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Simulator technology aimed at advancing critical communication and safety for pilots and passengers may soon be helping the U.S. Air Force with training operations.

PlaneEnglish, created by two Purdue University alumni, has received a $50,000 SBIR Phase I award, sponsored by the Air Force and AFWERX, the Air Force’s technology and innovation hub. The technology could address an important need for the Department of Defense.

PlaneEnglish is an app-based aviation radio simulator to help new pilots acquire radio communication proficiency by developing advanced skills in more realistic environments.

Muharrem Mane, an alumnus from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Eren Hadimioglu, an alumnus from the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology, created and developed PlaneEnglish. The technology’s simulator is now used in dozens of airports across the United States and was recently launched for iOS.

“We are in discussions with Air Force personnel from the Air Education and Training Command to understand their vision for the future of training, to share our technology and to identify how we can best contribute to the ongoing Air Force efforts in improving airmen training,” Mane said.

Mane said the formalized task-based training model of PlaneEnglish creates a guided self-learning experience for pilots and allows them to experience and gain confidence in communication-rich and communication-complex environments.

“Adapting the PlaneEnglish radio communication simulator to the needs of the Air Force and putting PlaneEnglish in the hands of airmen can improve flight training and will serve them well in live flying and when faced with emergencies or unusual situations where the ability to have one less task to actively think about can be a great advantage,” Mane said.

PlaneEnglish lessons guide users through simple and complicated interactions with air traffic control on every phase of flight. Each simulation includes visual clues (like altitude, distance from an airport and direction) to provide the pilot with the situational awareness necessary for communication.

Users are required to respond properly in specific situations, using the correct phraseology, speech rate and other factors. There can be as many as five or six exchanges back and forth with air traffic control. Then users are graded on those responses.

The work aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, celebrating the university’s global advancements in space exploration as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

The creators of PlaneEnglish are working with the Purdue Research Foundation as they develop their technology. 

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, 

Source: Muharrem Mane,

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