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Human Consequences of Agile Aircraft (Facteurs humains lies au pilotage des avions de combat tres manoeuvrants)

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While historically agile flight was first seen as an issue of airframe agility with a consequent emphasis on acceleration issues, there has been an evolution in the understanding of agility. WG 27 adopted WG 19s recommendations that airframe agility is only one aspect of agility which when combined with weapons agility and systems agility results in operational agility. The experienced pilots that we interviewed saw a real operational need for agile aircraft. They consistently rated both high angle-of-attacknose pointing and off-boresight missileshelmet- mounted displaysight systems as very important capabilities. They denied physiologic problems related to acceleration or spatial disorientation, although their sorties to date have been with a clear sky, in active control. Experts predict an increase in both G-LOC and spatial disorientation mishaps in future agile aircraft. In particular, there are significant gaps in our understanding of the effects of multi-axis accelerations. With minimal constraints on angle-of-attack and expanded weapon launch envelopes, novel displays will be required that enable pilots to fly with references well beyond conventional fields-of-view. Intelligent interfaces, and automated subsystems will be required to help pilots cope with the tactical situation, while also maintaining situational awareness. Efficient controls are also needed to enable pilots to command and operate equipment quickly and accurately. The thrust-vectoring and post-stall operations should be fully integrated into the flight control system. Pilots still prefer controlling aircraft functions via HOTAS hands -on-throttle-and-stick although voice and gaze-based control may also be useful. Current pilot protection systems will be inadequate in an unconstrained flight envelope and during ejection. Both basic and applied research will be needed to ensure that the potential benefits of increased agility are realized.

Subject Categories:

  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Psychology
  • Stress Physiology
  • Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems

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