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Visual Scanning: Comparisons between Student and Instructor Pilots

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Final rept. 1 Dec 1974-1 Dec 1975

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The performance of instructor pilots and student pilots was compared in two visual scanning tasks. In the first task both groups were shown slides of T-37 instrument displays. Some slides contained a significant deviation from a pre-determined straight and level course, and the task was to detect the error as quickly as possible. Instructor pilots detected errors faster and with greater accuracy than student pilots, thus providing evidence for the validity of the procedures employed. However, contrary to the concept of a fixed cross- check, student pilots showed a greater tendency to employ a systematic search pattern than did instructor pilots. This result suggests that rather than using a rigid scanning pattern, instructor pilots, by virtue of their additional flight experience, use a flexible scanning strategy which allows them to emphasize important or difficult aspects of the display. In the second experiment the attention diagnostic method task was employed to determine if the experience in visual scanning obtained in the flight situation would transfer to a novel scanning task. In the first session there were no differences in response latency between instructor pilots, student pilots, and a group of university students. Instructor pilots, however, showed a significant linear decrease in latency over the course of eight sessions while this trend was absent in the other two groups. This suggests that instructor pilots learn to attend to critical features more efficiently than do individuals with little or no flight experience. The results of the present experiments recommend the use of a variety of scanning tasks in the UPT program to facilitate the more rapid development of adaptive scanning strategies.

Subject Categories:

  • Flight Control and Instrumentation
  • Anatomy and Physiology

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