Improving Aviation Safety with Information Visualization: A Flight Simulation Study

Scientists Cecilia R. Aragon and Marti A. Hearst researched the issue of how to provide pilots with complex and dynamic information on airflow in relatively easy-to-access formats using information visualization. The abstract and the link to their article follow.

Many aircraft accidents each y ear are caused by encounters with invisible airflow hazards. Recent advances in aviation sensor technology offer the potential for aircraft-based sensors that can gather large amounts of airflow velocity data in real-time. With this influx of data comes the need to study how best to present it to the pilot – a cognitively overloaded user focused on a primary task other than that of information visualization.

In this paper, we present the results of a usability study of an airflow hazard visualization system that significantly reduced the crash rate among experienced helicopter pilots flying a high fidelity, aerodynamically realistic fixed-base rotorcraft flight simulator into hazardous conditions.