Centre for Air Travel Research (CATR)

National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
What the facility does

Supports a wide range of research and technology development projects related to passenger and air crew experience during air travel

Areas of expertise

The Centre for Air Travel Research (CATR) is a unique facility that recreates the various spaces that passengers interact with when they travel on commercial aircraft, including the check-in and gate areas of the airport terminal, as well as the aircraft cabin itself. These spaces are in fact laboratories, which allow for a precise and wide range of environmental control (i.e. noise, lighting, temperature, humidity and ventilation), and are equipped with data acquisition infrastructure.

One of five labs in the CATR, the Flexible Cabin Lab (FCL) is a functioning aircraft cabin with operational lavatories, galleys, interior lighting and passenger service units, as well as simulated noise, exterior lighting and scenery. The 20-row FCL can be configured for business, narrow-body and twin-aisle commercial aircraft.

The CATR provides industry and academic partners with a flexible, collaborative space to research, develop, integrate and evaluate concepts, technologies, systems products and materials. Using human participants, and with the diverse human factors expertise of National Research Council Canada (NRC) scientists, the CATR will allow companies to study and evaluate the complete air travel experience from start-to-finish to find ways to improve safety, efficiency and comfort for the benefit of Canadian travellers and visitors.

Research services
  • Prototype evaluation
  • Noise / vibration testing
  • Whole body vibration testing
  • Usability analysis of human-machine interfaces
  • Evaluation and quantification of comfort and user experience via human participant testing using subjective (e.g. surveys) and physiological measures
  • Measurement of psychological and cognitive responses for performance evaluation
  • Impact of lighting, ventilation, thermal environment, noise and vibration on perception of comfort, task performance and physiological stress markers
  • Biological fluid collection, processing, and analysis (e.g. stress levels)
Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Automotive
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Defence and security industries
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Tourism and hospitality
  • Transportation
Specialized labEquipmentFunction
The Airport Terminal Laboratory (ATL)Specialized HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)Provides temperature control of 10-30°C and humidity control of 5-80% relative humidity (RH) enabling the re-creation of various scenarios in a realistic airport environment
 Panasonic WVS1131 Full HD 1080p60 Fixed body box camera H.265Allows for monitoring of human subjects, as well as for use in image analysis
 Panasonic Network Video Recorder (NVR) model PVIR1P1U18CA with 18TB storage and 16GB RAM 
Screening Room with Size Stream 3D Body Scanner

Size Stream 3D Body Scanner


  • Infrared Depth Sensors
  • 14 sensors; 7 different heights
  • Auto-generates mesh from raw scan data

Body scans to relate physical attributes of human participants to their perception of the cabin environment

Flexible Cabin Laboratory (FCL)


Functional Passenger Service Units, functional lavatory with Vacuum Waste System, and functional galleyRe-creates cabin environment with dimensions ranging from a small regional aircraft to a wide-body cabin like the Boeing 777
 BodiTrak Model BT1526 dynamic seat pressure mapping matAllows for the measurement of quantities related to passenger comfort (e.g. in-seat movement monitoring)
 Panasonic WVS4150 360 deg. 5MP H.265 indoor dome multi-streaming cameraAllows for monitoring of human subjects; also used for image analysis, including analysis of facial expressions

120v 400 Hz aircraft power supply


Belham Power Products, Adjustable AC Power Source/Frequency Converter, BL Plus 30KVA, 3 Phase Output 120 VAC, 76 A per phase, 400 Hz.

Provides power compatible with aircraft systems

28VDC power supply


Magna-Power, Model SL32-125/480, 0-32 Vdc, 125 A

Provides power compatible with aircraft systems
Fuselage Laboratory (FL)Boeing B737 fuselage fitted with a powered cabin, functioning galleys, lavatories, and environmental control systemsDeveloping/evaluating technologies or procedures requiring integration with a realistic aircraft structure; suitable for human subject studies (e.g. passenger evacuation trials)

Electro-dynamic mechanical shaker


Provides vertical oscillation to represent helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft vibration. Enables investigation of occupant exposure to vibrations in helicopters, turboprop and jet aircraft (physiological, psychological and performance effects).

Integrated Physiological monitoring system (applicable for Human Vibration Lab, Fuselage Lab and Flexible Cabin Lab)


32 Channel Electroencephalogram (EEG) and Electromyogram (EMG)Physiological monitoring
 Electrooculogram (EOG)Physiological monitoring
 Electrocardiogram (ECG)Monitoring of heart rate and heart and rate variability
 Respiratory BeltRespiratory monitoring
 Nonin SenSmart Pulse OximetryPulse monitoring
 Galvanic Skin ResponseSkin response monitoring
 laserBIRD2 optical tracker, Ascension Technology CorporationHead tracking system
 XSens motion capture systemActivity monitoring
 Tobii Pro Glasses 2Eye Tracking system (wearable)
 Equivital ECG (electrocardiogram), skin temperature, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2), and accelerometerWearable biometric system
 Biopatch ECG (electrocardiogram) and accelerometerWearable biometric system
 Emotiv Epoc EEG (electroencephalogram) systemWearable biometric system
Aircraft Environmental Control System (ECS) (applicable for Human Vibration Lab, Fuselage Lab and Flexible Cabin Lab)Aircraft Environmental Control System (ECS)Ability to achieve very fine control over the thermal and ventilation environment using NRC developed real-time control systems
Control roomControl room consisting of multiple system hardware, software and Data Acquisition (DAQ) platformsCentralized control, monitoring and data acquisition of the various facility systems (HVAC, lighting, sound reproduction, etc.)
Indoor Positioning SystemQ-Track Indoor Positioning SystemTracking of human participants throughout the facility
  • Bombardier Aerospace
  • Airbus Americas
  • Department of National Defence (DND)
  • Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • Canadian Transportation Agency
  • Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC)
  • Transport Canada
  • York University
  • Neptec
  • Carleton University
World’s first research centre to improve Canadians’ air travel experiencehttps://www.canada.ca/en/national-research-council/news/2018/11/worlds-first-research-centre-to-imp…