- Press Release
- Dec 8, 2022
NASA Selects Top Invention
The Cabin Pressure Monitor developed by Jan Zysko
received NASA’s Commercial and Government Invention of the
Year Awards for 2003.
The Monitor, developed by Zysko, a NASA engineer, is patented
by the agency. The device is a hand-held, portable, accurate,
valuable, important, and life-saving instrument with many
applications. The monitor was selected in both categories for
its application and adaptability to both commercial and
Zysko and a team from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC),
Fla., developed the technology from concept to prototype to
commercialization in less than 12 months for less than
$100,000. NASA developed the Personal Cabin Pressure Altitude
Monitor and Warning System (CPM) to respond to various
requirements and to significantly improve public aviation
safety. The CPM senses the local pressure environment while
operating independently of other aircraft or spacecraft
Hypoxia can quickly render a crew helpless. The device
provides a timely warning to crewmembers, while they are
still mentally and physically able to take corrective action.
The monitor provides audio, vibratory, and visual alarms of
the impending danger of lack of oxygen (hypoxia), when cabin
pressure falls below preprogrammed levels. A lighted digital
screen displays a warning text message and also annotates the
pressurization condition causing the alarm.
The need for the CPM was partly inspired by the loss of
golfer Payne Stewart’s aircraft in October 1999. Loss of
cabin pressurization was the probable cause. A strikingly
similar accident happened in Perth, Australia, in 2000.
The first commercial Personal Cabin Pressure Monitor (PCM)
prototypes were publicly introduced at the Air Venture
Oshkosh 2000 air show in July 2000. The technology was
licensed to Kelly Manufacturing Company, the largest
manufacturer of general aviation aircraft instruments in the
world, in January 2002.
The NASA Biomedical Engineering Laboratory purchased several
CPMs to add to the inventory of emergency medical equipment
used to support air medical evacuation. In its initial NASA
application, the device protected workers in the Kennedy
Space Center (KSC) Mars Simulation Chamber from an accidental
pump down to a high altitude condition.
Zysko joined NASA at the KSC Space Shuttle Operations
Directorate in 1988. In 1998, Zysko moved to the KSC Sensor
Development Laboratory, where he developed a number of new
technologies. He works on unique projects related to sensor
and scientific research system development, such as
developing a gas-powered gun to fire foam projectiles at
Space Shuttle-like panels and wing structures for return-to-
flight technical assessments.
Kelly Aviation, a subsidiary of Kelly Manufacturing, produced
the first models for sale in March 2003. Although the device
is not an FAA certified flight instrument, nor is it meant to
replace such, it can serve as a viable alternative for
determining altitude in an emergency situation or as a simple
check of primary instrument function. The PCM is also used by
rural water districts to calculate head pressures at various
locations based on the differential altitude measurements
between the source and the end-user. Mountain climbers also
use it. The PCM retails for about $400 per unit.
For information about NASA and agency programs on the