Augmenting low-fidelity flight simulation training devices via amplified head rotations

2014-04-08T11:07:52Z (GMT) by Luan Le-Ngoc
Due to economic and operational constraints, there is an increasing demand from aviation operators and training manufacturers to extract maximum training usage from the lower fidelity suite of flight simulators. It is possible to augment low-fidelity flight simulators to achieve equivalent performance compared to high-fidelity setups but at reduced cost and greater mobility. In particular for visual manoeuvres, the virtual reality technique of head-tracking amplification for virtual view control enables full field-of-regard access even with limited field-of-view displays. This research quantified the effects of this technique on piloting performance, workload and simulator sickness by applying it to a fixed-base, low-fidelity, low-cost flight simulator. In two separate simulator trials, participants had to land a simulated aircraft from a visual traffic circuit pattern whilst scanning for airborne traffic. Initially, a single augmented display was compared to the common triple display setup in front of the pilot. Starting from the base leg, pilots exhibited tighter turns closer to the desired ground track and were more actively conducting visual scans using the augmented display. This was followed up by a second experiment to quantify the scalability of augmentation towards larger displays and field of views. Task complexity was increased by starting the traffic pattern from the downwind leg. Triple displays in front of the pilot yielded the best compromise delivering flight performance and traffic detection scores just below the triple projectors but without an increase in track deviations and the pilots were also less prone to simulator sickness symptoms. This research demonstrated that head augmentation yields clear benefits of quick user adaptation, low-cost, ease of systems integration, together with the capability to negate the impact of display sizes yet without incurring significant penalties in workload and incurring simulator sickness. The impact of this research is that it facilitates future flight training solutions using this augmentation technique to meet budgetary and mobility requirements. This enables deployment of simulators in large numbers to deliver expanded mission rehearsal previously unattainable within this class of low-fidelity simulators, and with no restrictions for transfer to other training media.