Dan Gavrin


PIONEER is a knee-board, an organization tool that pilots strap to their legs during flight to hold any materials and notes they may need. PIONEER is different because it uses integrated technology to automate parts of pilot workflow and clean up pilot checklists. This will reduce fatal accidents in general aviation and allow pilots a sense of control they have not yet had.


Final Details

PIONEER has an onboard radio, computer, and screen for automatic ATIS transcription, A place to keep your phone, and digital checklists.

Interactive Checklists

Checklists are far easier to read and understand using POINEER.

Current knee-boards lack ease of access to emergency information so I added a button to immediately access them.

To assist pilots with keeping track of where they are in a checklist there is a check off feature where you can tap the individual items or the buttons at the bottom.

New ATIS Journey

Gathering ATIS is by far the most time consuming and distracting part of flight. PIONEER combats this with radio transcription so pilots can focus on flying.

1: set the on board radio to the ATIS channel.

2: Fly normally and focused while the radio is transcribed.

3: Look down and take in the information necessary for landing.



Going into senior project I met a recently licensed pilot. Going up in a small plane for the first time was fascinating and I needed to learn more.


When I first went up with them, I realized how amazing it was, but also saw a downside. There were many things pilots had to juggle, making flight seem far more stressful.


PIONEER allows pilots more cognitive space and a greater sense of control while flying thanks to automating the collection of ATIS and adding interaction as well as visual cleanliness to pilot’s checklists.


Through research I found that roughly 75% of fatal crashes occurred due to “pilot error” and most of those crashes were due to being distracted during the last stages of flight.


I recorded an entire flight and later took note of all the time spent looking away from the sky. During the later stages of flight pilots have a lot of things to do. While these are important, they increase the overall cognitive load of the pilot. This combined with the difficulty of landing makes the later stages of flight dangerous.


I’m looking at two potential kinds of pilots, a more comfortable established pilot and a more recently licensed/student pilot. PIONEER is targeted at the more beginner pilot as established pilots tend to replace their knee boards with a mounted iPad.

What is ATIS?

ATIS or Automatic Terminal Information Service is a recording that gets replaced every hour updating what information pilots need to land.

When reporting their intention to land, pilots are required to listen, write it down by hand, and report to the tower that they are using that weather information to land.

Pictured is the process of collecting it.


Pilot’s checklists are often in all caps with the words really close together, its not uncommon for one to lose their place while looking through them. This is another place I believe there is room for improvement.

Market Research

I looked at the current market of organization tools and knee boards for Pilots today and found that people constantly struggle with and modify them.



The Prototype

I made a prototype for testing in order to understand scale and weight.

The prototype itself is made from industrial felt, acrylic and thread to hold it all together.

Man Behind the Curtain

Using a man behind the curtain test I have been able to half the amount of time spent looking down away from the instruments or sight picture.

This test involved using a flight sim, his normal knee-board and my prototype board. I acted out the ATIS transcription, and used my phone to fake digital checklists.

Scale and Weight

Aside from the good test results, I also got good reviews on the scale and weight of the product.

Each panel is about the size of an iPad and slightly heavier than the normal knee-board to compensate for technology. Even with the extra weight the pilots I spoke to thought it was within reasonable bounds.

Thanks for viewing my project!

Daniel Gavrin

Hi, I am a product designer studying at Drexel University. I am most passionate about visually simple designs with interesting features. I try to make my design process a learning experience through the use of material exploration or a technology I have never used before.

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