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Free Content Configural Features of Helmet-Mounted Displays to Enhance Pilot Situation Awareness

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Jenkins JC, Gallimore JJ. Configural features of helmet-mounted displays to enhance pilot situation awareness. Aviat Space Environ Med 2008; 79:397–407.



Background: In the current research, we used configural displays to investigate what design features contribute to the formation of operator situation awareness (SA). Configural displays have been shown to provide better performance for integration tasks, yet the design aspects of these displays which affect the formation of operator SA have not been determined. Objective: We compared the design features of three configural attitude head-up displays (HUD) [joint strike fighter (JSF), dual articulated (DA), and arc segment attitude reference (ASAR)] presented on a helmet mounted display (HMD) across four experiments to quantify what aspects of configural displays would affect pilot SA. Methods: In Experiment 1, nine expert pilots completed recall tasks for briefly-presented aircraft attitude displays to measure Level 1 SA performance. In Experiments 2–4, 10 highly trained pilots (expert group) and 10 flight test engineers (novice group) served as subjects to investigate higher level SA performance in an unusual attitude recovery (UAR) task. Experiments 3 and 4 included off-axis attitude symbology UARs. Results: Experiment 1 results indicated a higher percentage of correct responses for recognition of climb and dive states with the ASAR configural display. Results from Experiments 2–4 indicated no differences in performance. Results also showed that transitioning between dissimilar configural displays conveying attitude does not affect pilot SA. Conclusions: This research discusses the specific properties of aviation configural displays. The results suggest that using these displays with the full range of aircraft states is sufficient for SA to be established when rapidly transitioning between dissimilar configural displays. Results indicate that differences in performance are diminished when using experts and significant training may overcome differences that exist among the configural displays.

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Keywords: HMD; HUD; configural displays; emergent feature; operator goals attitude reference; saliency; situation awareness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the Department of Biomedical, Industrial, and Human Factors Engineering, Wright State University, Dayton, OH.

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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