Flight Performance and Mental Stress of Pilots by Verbal Reports and Spatial Disorientation

Spatial disorientation (SD) can adversely affect a pilot’s flight mission and cause critical flight accidents. To ensure a pilot’s flight safety, it is important to understand the impact of SD on a pilot’s flight performance and mental stress levels, and it is necessary to verify the effectiveness of using verbal reports (VR) for pilots to overcome SD without the aid of aeronautical systems. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to analyze the difference in pilot performance and mental stress levels by VR executions and SD types. In this study, simulated flight experiments were performed on thirty Air Force fighter pilots (fifteen VR and fifteen non-VR) using a SD simulator with an Electrocardiography (ECG) measurement sensor attached. The experimental data was analyzed with using two flight performance scales (instructor evaluation scores and self-evaluation scores) and two mental stress scales (heart rate variability (HRV) measures and subjective stress scores) by two VR executions (VR and non-VR) and six SD types (Somatogravic Illusion, Coriolis, Leans, False Horizon, Graveyard Spin, and Black Hole Illusion). The result of the experiment, in terms of flight performance, showed a significant difference in instructor evaluation scores for VR execution, and in both instructor evaluation scores and self-evaluation scores for SD types. On the other hand, in terms of mental stress, there was a significant difference in both high frequency (HF) of HRV measures and subjective stress scores for VR execution, and in subjective stress scores for SD types. The results of this study can help pilots understand SD situations and overcome SD by executing VR.


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  • Accession Number: 01766778
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 10 2021 3:10PM