Development of an Airborne Display Research Facility 2003-01-3005
Computer-generated flight instrument symbology has resulted in considerable freedom from the constraints imposed by mechanical instruments. To validate conceptual alternative display formats requires a robust capability to measure pilot performance in a realistic environment, and to evaluate the sensitivity of task performance to a variety of display elements. The Harvard Mark 4 research aircraft was adapted by the National Research Council of Canada as a facility for conducting fundamental human factors research, specializing in flight symbology development. A preliminary experiment was performed to validate the facility and the applied methodology for symbology research. A novel, asymmetric, attitude indicator symbol was developed and tested. Using an unusual attitude recovery task, the strengths and weaknesses of the new attitude display were identified. Although not statistically significant due to a small number of participants, pilots were able to interpret the display and recover from unusual attitudes in less time and with fewer errors using the asymmetrical attitude indicator, compared to a standard attitude indicator or an arc-segmented attitude reference. This experiment demonstrated that the Harvard Mark 4 was a productive and cost effective facility for the conduct of these types of experiments.