An Analysis of Helicopter Pilot Scan Techniques While Flying at Low Altitudes and High Speed
Kirby, Christopher E.
Yang, Ji Hyun
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This study compared how non-experienced and experienced pilots reacted in terms of their scan patterns during a simulated high speed low level flight. The focus of this study was specifically on the flight regimes encountered by helicopter pilots. Information obtained from this research may aid training effectiveness specific to helicopter aviation. Methods There were 17 military officers, all active-duty Navy helicopter pilots, who all had different levels of flight experience based on their total flight times. Each pilot was asked to successfully fly and navigate a course through a simulated southern Californian desert in a fixed-based helicopter simulator modeled after the U.S. Navys MH-60S. The location of their scan was tracked by an eye-tracking system in order to determine scan rate and locations while they flew the course. All of the flight parameters, such as airspeed and altitude, were recorded by the simulators recording system. Results Analysis of the results obtained from the eye tracking system indicated a decreasing relationship between scan rate and pilot experience, indicating that the scan rate decreases as a pilot becomes more experienced. The analysis uses altitude variance as a measure of performance. Results indicate that higher scan rates correlate with higher degrees of variance in the altitude, indicating that a quicker scan does not necessarily result in better performance. The higher experienced pilots show a lower altitude variance overall (they were more consistent in maintaining a constant altitude above the ground), yet those pilots all exhibited slower scan rates. Discussion The integration of the eye tracking technology with a simulator representing an aircraft currently in service was a success. Although none of the null hypotheses presented were rejected, trends were evident in scan rates when compared with pilot experience. The relatively small sample size was identified as the major causal factor for the lack of significance.
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