With the recent introduction of large area touch screens on the latest versions of the A350 and 777, there remain concerns that touch screen interfaces are inferior to mechanical controls on the flight deck, especially while under the effects of turbulence.
Open Flight Deck has been investigating the validity of these concerns by designing touch screen interfaces that replicate common flight deck tasks and then measuring the usability of these interfaces under turbulent conditions. These trials, completed just ahead of the coronavirus lockdown, will provide feedback on how to successfully design touchscreen user applications that can perform under the range of turbulent conditions likely to occur on the flight deck. Previous studies undertaken by GE and University of Southampton have identify the requirement for touch screen hand anchor points and the poor-performance of multi-touch gestures and poor-usability of an overhead touch screen.
The latest round of evaluations took place in February/March 2020 at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research in Southampton with the use of their six-axis motion platform. 26 participants completed several evaluation tasks under a range of motions. The results will provide an insight and guidelines for designing touch screen flight deck interfaces, such as numeric data entry and map navigation; two critical flight management tasks undertaken by pilots.
OFD aims to discuss the results from this study at the forthcoming Society of Information Display – Display Week and the Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics conferences, although with the current coronavirus situation these events are subject to confirmation.