Three Purdue University alumni will soon help more members of the U.S. Air Force advance critical communication skills to keep them safe in the cockpit.

PlaneEnglish, a simulator created by the three Purdue alumni, has received a $1 million SBIR Phase II award, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and AFWERX, the Air Force’s technology and innovation hub. The technology addresses important communication and training needs for the Department of Defense.

Image credit: PlaneEnglish

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to play an even bigger part in helping the Air Force train pilots using a digital approach that’s proven popular with users,” said Muharrem Mane, one of the creators of the simulator.

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

Mane, an alumnus of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Eren Hadimioglu, an alumnus of the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology; and Sam Dickson, an alumnus of the Department of Computer Science, created and developed PlaneEnglish. The technology’s simulator is used in dozens of airports across the United States, and the team just launched a version of the technology for civilian pilots.

PlaneEnglish lessons guide users through simple and complicated interactions with air traffic control on every phase of flight from taxi out, to takeoff, to airspace entrance, to approaches, to taxi in.

Mane also said the technology comes at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration has put an increased focus on English language proficiency for pilots and started asking instructors to test their students on their speaking and communication abilities.