Human Factors on Displays Essay

Submitted By stealth071
Words: 2901
Pages: 12

Human Factors in Aircraft Design (Aviation Displays)
Christopher Becht
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Statement of issue or problem
Aircraft design is a very complex and overwhelming industry. For over a hundred years humans have taken flying aircraft to different levels. There are thousands of considerations when designing aircraft as well as flying them. The focus of this literature review is to showcase the human factors involved with aviation displays in the cockpit. The early cockpits designs were based solely on site and feel. Control of the aircraft was a “stick and rudder” operation and was very physical in nature. Only a few basic flight control display were installed. Aircraft and engine performance were not monitored by the pilot and/or aircrew. The aircraft cockpit has evolved from round-dial steam gauges that supplied basic information to elaborate multi-color, multi-function displays capable of giving the aircrew more information than they can absorb. So the question is posed. Has integrating a “glass cockpit” bettered the flying environment or added additional work for the pilot? Cockpit design over the years has continued to add excessive displays and controls which lead to aviator stress and unmanageable CRM (Crew Resource Management). Human factors have advanced in relation to cognitive behavior, tasking, and memory capacity. These attributes lead to the development of the MFD (Multi-Functional Display). The multifunction display (MFD) is a display surface which, through hardware or software controlling means, is capable of displaying information from multiple sources and, potentially, in several different reference frames. The device may be capable of either displaying different groups of data (i.e., weather, traffic, or terrain) one at a time or in a combined fashion. In some cases the data may be combined within a single common reference frame or within separate reference frames. Bringing multiple types of data to several screens is a human factors challenge. Not always is the fewest number of displays the best option (Lawrence, 2011).

Significance of the issue/problem
There have been multiple studies over the decades conducted whether or not that integration of a “glass cockpit” is causing pilot safety concerns. An interruption during high workload or at a critical moment can cause a delay in the user’s ability to respond to a malfunction, leading to a potential failure. If the user is attending to a malfunction in an automated task and is interrupted, the interruption depletes the user’s mental resources causing him to be less capable of averting the potential failure. Certain automation functions might be stopped from interrupting during the takeoff and landing portions of flight (Ahlstrom, 2003).
Automation is defined as the independent accomplishment of a function by a device or a system that was formerly carried out by a human. NASA did one study of 200 Boeing 757 pilots and found conflicting evidence of whether automated cockpits reduced workload and may introduce a safety factor. An element of the study showed that pilots and co-pilots spend a lot of time and resources during takeoff, below 10,000ft, and landing. If automation is used and there are changes to the flight plan, then reprogramming flight computers may drive a “heads down” scenario more often than needed. Some pilots stated that they don’t input all the data of a sequence at one time. They will enter a portion of the thread, check outside the aircraft for traffic, then return to finish the entry. The study also concluded that older more experienced pilots rely on their basic flying skills where younger pilots use the automation more often. Another concern of this particular study is the reliance on automation. Some agree that as long as you can type in data to the flight computers then the aircraft will handle much of the workload. This may take away from basic piloting skills. Furthermore, if a pilot goes from an…