Improving precision vertical flight operations through a direct-perception-action display
Despite advances in head-up display technology, pilots of vertical takeoff and landing air and spacecraft still rely heavily on visual perceptual cues for precision landings. Reliance on these cues hampers operational success because exogenous influences such as brownouts can significantly reduce the effectiveness of perceptual cues, often with little warning. Moreover, the hover and descent-to-landing phases of vertical flight constitute the highest workload phases of flight for these pilots. To mitigate the reliance on visual perceptual cues and reduce mental workload, an integrated head-up display is proposed that leverages ecological perception through a direct-perception-action visual representation, called the vertical altitude and velocity indicator. By allowing operators to directly perceive system states instead of deriving them, the vertical altitude and velocity indicator allows operators to employ more efficient processes of perception rather than relying on memory, integration, and inference, which are cognitively demanding. Experimental results demonstrate that the vertical altitude and velocity indicator improves pilot performance and reduces subjective workload, particularly in expert pilot populations, as compared with a conventional head-up display. Implications for training and unmanned vehicle operations are also discussed. Copyright © 2009 by M. L. Cummings. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc.
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