Primary Flight
Display



This research project was conducted in tandem with Dr. Axel Roesler of UW and Boeing, in collaboration with Sarah Churng. The project was to explore a human-centered proof of concept interface for commercial aircraft primary flight displays (PFD) to reduce cognitive overload in high-risk situations. Our case study was based around the events of Air France Flight 447 and the relationship between human error and machine malfunction.

PROJECT
University

YEAR
2014

ROLE
Research, Design 

PRINCIPLE RESEARCHER
Dr. Axel Roesler

COLLABORATORS

PRESENTATION/PUBLICATION
Sarah Churng



Primary Flight Display


This research project was conducted in tandem with Dr. Axel Roesler of UW and Boeing, in collaboration with Sarah Churng. The project was to explore a human-centered proof of concept interface for commercial aircraft primary flight displays (PFD) to reduce cognitive overload in high-risk situations. Our case study was based around the events of Air France Flight 447 and the relationship between human error and machine malfunction.

PROJECT
Personal Project

YEAR
2017-Present

PUBLISHED WORK
Posters for Change

ROLE
Owner, Curator, Designer

WEB / INSTAGRAM
@HelloPosterShow




Current
PFD



The primary flight display is one of the core interfaces in communicating aircraft positioning to the pilot. Currently it is two dimentional visualizes horizon line information but lacks comprehensive contextual information such as angle-of-attack. Traditional PFD displays have been minimally updated since the 1980’s when they became a standard across commercial airplanes. As technology and plane automation has advanced many of the interfaces to communicate flight status to the pilot have not evolved.





Air France
Flight 447



In the aftermath of high risk situations that have resulted in disastrous outcomes, a common debate arises: human error or design flaw? On June 1, 2009 Air France flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean as a result of unclear information from the instruments creating a negative feedback loop resulting in human error.

After the aircraft speed sensors failed, setting off stall alarms and disengaging autopilot, the junior pilot acted as trained and pulled back on the flight stick to gain stability. What he did not realize is that by doing so he forced the plane into a stall resulting in a crash within 4 minutes. The lack of actionable feedback, absence of comprehensive contextual information, and the nature of flight stick independent operation, the senior pilot had no way of knowing what was happening. These compounding situations lead to confusion and ultimately deadly failure.  

Proposed
PFD



This proof of concept primary flight display eliminates cognitive delays in high-risk situations and provides pilots with direct visual affordances about the flight path. The design takes a human-centered approach to create a model that facilitates direct perceptions of plane orientation. By creating an immersive visual environment we aimed to tap into the reflex that corrects the body into alignment when it is off balance, so that controlling the plane becomes an extension of the pilot’s ‘righting reflex’ (Kathleen Cullen).

Our work was motivated by insights from cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. We use the edges of the interface itself as visual affordances to indicate contextual changes and we simulate the righting reflex to prompt pilots to correctly engage downward velocity and reenter the target flight path. Instead of feedback that requires cognitive functions, which take up critical time, the proposed concept implements perceptual cues that engage the pilots to take immediate action. The target flight path is represented by the immersive tunnel and yellow target indicator, with the planes real time positioning indicated in blue, when aligned and on path creating a green indication.
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Mark