In a four-page research showcase “Aviation Human Factors at the University of Southampton” in Issue 30 of EuroControl’s HindSight magazine, OFD partner University of Southampton outlines recent research activities into the effects of turbulence performed by its Human Factors Engineering Team as part of the OFD project.

“The functionality and complexity of the flight deck has increased significantly in recent years. Current displays are already crowded, with little room to incorporate increased functionality. Touchscreens have the potential to increase functionality as they are more customisable and provide a virtually unlimited array of user applications…the ease in which touchscreens can be updated and modified is attractive to aircraft manufacturers. What is less well known is how their usability might be impacted in turbulent conditions, especially in a fixed location.”

Working with GE Aviation Systems and Rolls-Royce, as part of the Open Flight Deck project, the team at Southampton has been investigating the usability of touchscreens in turbulent representative motion, generated on a 6-axis motion simulator. Touchscreens were tested in centre, side, and overhead positions under conditions of light chop, light turbulence and moderate turbulence and performance measures including error rate, movement times, accuracy and arm fatigue/discomfort were captured.

Whilst side screen positioning was found to be more comfortable for the user, central screen positioning resulted in faster movement times and lower error rates across all vibration conditions.

Aimed primarily at air traffic controllers, aircraft operators and professional pilots, Eurocontrol’s Hindsight magazine covers all aspects of air traffic management safety. With a global circulation of over 5,000, it promotes the benefits of an open flight deck concept to, what will ultimately be, end users. The article in full can be accessed by clicking here