Exploring Levers for Improvement of Basic Civil Aviation Training

University dissertation from Mediatryck AB, Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Although the civil aviation industry has gone through great technological and commercial change in the last decades, basic civil aviation training has not kept pace accordingly. The changes in civil aviation have rarely resulted in research programs in the field of basic training, which has long received minimal attention from the industry. In the research presented in this thesis, methods for understanding basic civil aviation training, primarily assessment of mental workload, have been explored in order to find levers with which such training may be improved. In the first study, a comparison of in-flight heart rate data during simulator and aircraft flights shows that the data from a small, non-intrusive sports recorder have a correlation of .981 with data from a clinical and research recorder. This indicates that the sports recorder provides a reliable and cost-effective method for obtaining heart rate data for assessment of mental workload. The second study focused on the effects of introducing aircraft equipped with the modern technology of an airliner into ab initio training. Interviews and questionnaires were used to collect data from flight instructors and students. The results show that anticipated problems in the use of displays, aircraft speed and side control had limited impact on the training. The conclusion is that with extensive preparation, introduction of modern aircraft in ab initio training can be accomplished successfully. In the third study, heart rate and eye movement data as well as subjective ratings of mental workload were collected in order to compare mental workload in simulator and aircraft during ab initio training. The results indicate that there is a high degree of correlation in psychophysiological reactions between the two types of flight. However, for some flight segments the heart rate was lower in the simulator, indicating that the mental workload was higher in the aircraft. Differences in heart rate for the rejected take-off and engine failure segments indicate that in the simulator, the increase in workload starts in advance of the occurrence of an event and that the mental workload for ?unexpected? events seems to be of a preparatory nature in the simulator and more related to management of the situation in the aircraft.

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