Friday, November 6, 2009

What is your artificial horizon telling you?

From the New Scientist today:

The artificial horizon, the instrument that tells pilots how their aircraft is banking, is due for a rethink.

So says cockpit ergonomics researcher Donough Wilson of Coventry University in the UK, who points out that conventional displays can be fatally misread when pilots become disoriented in the murk of thunderstorms, torrential rain or heavy snow. Wilson has developed an alternative display which he presented at last week's European Air and Space Conference in Manchester, UK.

Read more here.


  1. I'd like to see the qualifications of the 45 pilots tested. A 92% failure rate is pretty hard to believe.

  2. As a general rule the brain specializes in finding patterns from information. If there is insufficient or conflicting information, or the information is meaningless noise, the brain is going to find a pattern anyway. Once this pattern or interpretation, has emerged, the brain is slow to change it even when faced with conflicting evidence. This is why displays of information in confusing environments should always be subjected to multiple rounds of analysis. If, as David G said, there was a failure rate of 92% rate of persons with the qualifications of "pilot", it might be productive to carefully look at the varying the design elements of the display and analysing how each element impacts the brains tendancy to come up with the "wrong" interpretation. Commen sense solutions do not always work as well as they should. Larry M