Browse Publications Technical Papers 2023-01-1009

eVTOL Flight: Forecasting Future Training Requirements in an Emerging Aviation Market 2023-01-1009

Most emerging electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft feature distributed electric propulsion systems with automation features that simplify operations for future pilots. In theory, increasing automation levels should reduce pilot workload, decrease training time, and improve performance consistency. Air Education and Training Command Detachment 62 (AETC/Det 62) sought to test this theory as part of a larger study involving 70+ participants, two eVTOL platform simulators, and multimodal assessments of flight performance. In the present report, we compared expert ratings of flight performance of pilots who do not have prior pilot experience or training (herein referred to as ab initio pilots; i.e., 0 flight hours) to those of experienced pilots (i.e., >300 flight hours) in either a semi-automated or highly-automated simulated eVTOL platform. All participants received a brief orientation of the controls, then flew a scripted flight profile four times with guidance from an instructor pilot. The fourth and final flight profile was flown without any instructional guidance in order to assess unassisted performance. Instructor pilots rated the quality of hover, takeoff, en-route navigation, and approach and landing maneuvers on a 4-point scale. Experienced pilots overall outperformed ab initio pilots; however, the two groups showed similar learning trajectories for basic eVTOL flight operations over a 2-hour period of learning. In some cases (e.g., takeoff in the highly-automated platform), ab initio pilots reached similar performance levels as experienced pilots during the learning profile. Although the present study focused only on basic flight skills, results suggest that both ab initio and experienced pilots can rapidly gain proficiency in basic eVTOL operations.


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