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Design and Evaluation of a Haptic Flight Director


De Stigter,  S
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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De Stigter, S., Mulder, M., & van Paassen, M. (2007). Design and Evaluation of a Haptic Flight Director. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 30(1), 35-46. doi:10.2514/1.20593.

The majority of information sources on the flight deck are visual displays. An example is the flight director display that improves pilot manual aircraft control performance but also involves a visually demanding task. Tactile, or haptic displays use the human tactile modality as an information channel. This paper discusses how the visual information of the flight director can be presented through providing force-feedback on the control stick. The haptic flight director gives pilots a constant stream of tactile information on the state of the flight director command bars, also when visual attention is not directed at the primary flight display. It was hypothesized that the shorter latencies in the tactile motor loop allow pilots to control aircraft at a higher bandwidth, increasing performance. It was further hypothesized that using two modalities, instead of one, to conduct the aircraft manual control task, would reduce pilot workload, also when a secondary, visually distracting side task is present. To test these hypotheses, an experiment was conducted in a fixed-base simulator. Professional pilots conducted approaches with the visual and haptic flight director displays, while simultaneously a secondary task had to be conducted. Results show that the haptic flight director indeed yields improved pilot performance and lower workload.