Assessing flight task performance of general aviation pilots under varied VR conditions
Nathan A. Brelage
An understanding of how pilots complete their flight tasks is an essential element of preventing aviation incidents. Disorientation or a loss of control of the aircraft are some of the direct causes of such events. This study seeks to assess the impact of environmental factors on the ability of general aviation pilots to complete flight tasks.Certified pilots (n = 8) with experience flying a Cessna 172 or similar aircraft participated. They were tasked with flying a virtual model of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. This was accomplished using X-Plane 11 flight simulation software, Honeycomb Alpha flight controls, and a Saitek throttle quadrant. The software was integrated with an HTC Vive Pro virtual reality headset. Within X-Plane 11, three environmental conditions were created: Clear, Partial Clouds, and Full Clouds. All weather conditions other than cloud cover were the same across the environments with no wind present. No clouds are present in the Clear condition. Roughly 50% of the ground is obscured by clouds in the Partial Clouds condition. The ground is completely obscured by clouds in the Full Clouds condition. In each environment, the pilots were tasked with performing a series of 500 ft ascents, 500 ft descents, 90° turns to the right, and 90° turns to the left. These tasks were completed above the cloud layer.The pilots were assessed based on their altitude error, heading error, heading rate of change, and the amount of motor control effort that was required to complete the task. The duration of the task was also considered when evaluating the impact of the environment. The findings of this study may help to indicate where pilots need additional training or tools to aid them in safely controlling their aircraft.
Anne R. Crecelius, Megan E. Reissman, Timothy Reissman
Primary Advisor's Department
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Stander Symposium project, School of Engineering
"Assessing flight task performance of general aviation pilots under varied VR conditions" (2022). Stander Symposium Projects. 2756.