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Neuropsychological guidelines for aircraft control stations

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1 Author(s)
Previc, F.H. ; US Air Force Res. Lab., Brooks AFB, TX, USA

Despite the rigorous process for selecting and training military pilots, they all too often succumb to spatial disorientation (SD) and loss of situation awareness (LSA) in flight. It is estimated that SD mishaps occur once every 300,000 hours and that an LSA mishap occurs about three times as often. Hence, an experienced pilot with 3,000 hours of flight experience has a 14% likelihood of being involved in an SD-related mishap and at least a 3% chance of being involved in either an SD- or LSA-related mishap. However, the likelihood of being involved in an SD-related incident that poses a serious risk to safety or mission success is much higher; for example, 26% of experienced fighter pilots flying F-16s reported that SD had caused a "near-accident" in their flying careers. Although the abnormal acceleratory environment of flight is inherently dangerous and unforgiving, the poor design of most aviation control stations arguably compounds the sensorimotor limitations of pilots in the aerial environment. The purpose of this article is to provide a set of guidelines for aircraft control stations (including cockpits), based on neuropsychological principles. These stations will exploit fully the information-processing capabilities of pilots and allow them to cope better with the demands of flying and enhanced tactical operations.

Published in:

Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 2 )