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A participatory approach to helicopter user interface design

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conference contribution
posted on 06.08.2019, 13:15 by David McNeish, Martin MaguireMartin Maguire
The importance of involving users during user interface (UI) design activities is widely recognised however the nature of this involvement may vary significantly. This study investigated the benefits and challenges of applying Participatory Design (PD) during the development of helicopter UI. During the first phase, four helicopter design professionals were interviewed in order to understand their views on user involvement and current approaches. The second phase involved three helicopter test pilots and three human factors specialists participating in a PD workshop (based on design thinking) focussed on a helicopter UI design case study (the Automatic Flight Control System within a Royal Navy Merlin Mark 2). There was strong agreement from all the participants that user involvement is important and current approaches were described as mainly consultative. Benefits identified included a better understanding of the problem and context of use and therefore closer alignment of the design with user needs. The approach encouraged divergent thinking and benefitted from being multidisciplinary. Minor changes to the workshop format should be considered in order to minimise the risk of bias and make the best use of the participants’ time. This study developed a valuable approach to PD which is likely to be generalizable to other domains.



  • Design

Published in

Contemporary Ergonomics & Human Factors 2019


Ergonomics & Human Factors (EHF 2019)


Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF)


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

Crown copyright (2019), Dstl

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Paper. It is published by CIEHF under the license

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Stratford on Avon

Event dates

29th April 2019 - 1st May 2019


Mrs Andrea Jenkins impersonating Dr Martin Maguire

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