Date of Award

Summer 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

James P. Bliss

Committee Member

Carryl L. Baldwin

Committee Member

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

James R. Comstock, Jr.

Committee Member

Frederick J. Freeman


The primary goal of the present study was to investigate the effects of display integration in a simulated commercial aircraft cockpit equipped with a synthetic vision display. Combinations of display integration level (low/high), display view (synthetic vision view/traditional display), and workload (low/high) were presented to each participant. Sixteen commercial pilots flew multiple approaches under IMC conditions in a moderate fidelity fixed-base part-task simulator. Pilot performance data, visual activity, mental workload, and self-report situation awareness were measured.

Congruent with the Proximity Compatibility Principle, the more integrated display facilitated superior performance on integrative tasks (lateral and vertical path maintenance), whereas a less integrated display elicited better focus task performance (airspeed maintenance). The synthetic vision displays facilitated superior path maintenance performance under low workload, but these performance gains were not as evident during high workload.

The majority of the eye movement findings identified differences in visual acquisition of the airspeed indicator, the glideslope indicator, the localizer, and the altimeter as a function of display integration level or display view. There were more fixations on the airspeed indicator with the more integrated display layout and during high workload trials. There were also more fixations on the glideslope indicator with the more integrated display layout. However, there were more fixations on the localizer with the less integrated display layout. There were more fixations on the altimeter with the more integrated display and with the traditional view. Only a few eye movement differences were produced by the synthetic vision displays; pilots looked at the glideslope indicator and the altimeter less with the synthetic vision view. This supports the notion that utilizing a synthetic vision display should not adversely impact visual acquisition of data. Self-report mental workload and situation awareness data highlight additional benefits of display integration and synthetic vision displays. Design and retrofit implications are discussed and future research is suggested to further examine these issues.


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