Measuring up: ONR tech makes sure aviators and aircraft are a perfect fit

ARLINGTON, Va.–The aspiring U.S. Navy pilot ran through a series of motions–sitting, kneeling, stretching out his arm–to gauge the type of aircraft cockpit his body would fit.

As the pilot completed each exercise, a technician hovered over him and recorded measurements using a tool called an anthropometer–consisting of several metal tubes formed into a large ruler-and-caliper set and spanning the height of a person. Total time: seven minutes.

Another pilot stood at attention while engineers connected a camera the size of a TV remote to a laptop and took a photo. Thirteen yellow-and-black dots–representing limbs and joints–peppered the pilot’s image on the computer screen. Specialized software calculated the distance between each joint to produce an accurate body measurement. Time elapsed: one minute.