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Moving-horizon versus moving-aircraft: Effectiveness of competing attitude indicator formats on recoveries from discrete and continuous attitude changes

Müller, Simon; Korff, Christian; Manzey, Dietrich

The present research revisits the old issue whether attitude information is best conveyed to pilots in a moving-horizon format or in a moving-aircraft format. Previous research has suggested that the moving-aircraft format might not be beneficial for flight path tracking but recoveries from unusual attitudes, although the result are not fully consistent. A limitation of studies to date is that the recovery task usually did not involve progressive attitude changes of the aircraft but only sudden discrete changes. Compared with a discrete stimulus, the continuous dynamics might increase the perceived time pressure to respond, which in turn can be expected to amplify the error proneness with a less intuitive format. Two experiments were conducted where flight novices and experienced pilots performed tracking and recover tasks with both formats. Recoveries were performed from both, sudden (discrete) and continuously developing attitude changes. Independent of whether novices or pilots were considered, the general superiority of the moving-aircraft format was confirmed. As expected, the benefits of this format became even more evident with progressive attitude changes. No differences were found for tracking. The results add to the evidence favoring the moving-aircraft over the moving-horizon format for both novices and pilots. The moving-aircraft format of the attitude indicator should at least be considered as a standard for new applications, such as ground control stations of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology / Applied, 10.1037/xap0000329, American Psychological Association