Aaron Johnson, MVL (** Change of speaker for this week **)
Pilot Visual Fixations on Flight Displays across Lunar Landing Mode Transitions
Abstract: Pilots regularly transition between flight control modes during a mission. This requires the operators to adapt their visual attention to the new control mode at a time when they also have critical tasks to perform. Previous research has investigated changes in flight performance, mental workload, and situation awareness across mode transitions but has ignored how operators re-allocate their visual attention among the display elements. This study is the first to directly measure operator visual fixations across control mode transitions. Twelve subjects sat at a fixed-base lunar landing simulator and initiated transitions between automatic and two manual control modes as their primary task. This gave six unique mode transitions. Visual fixations were recorded with an eye tracker and the data was compared to the operators’ mental workload and situation awareness. These were measured using the responses to a secondary two-choice response task and a tertiary task of verbal call-outs of the vehicle state, respectively. The number of fixations and average dwell duration on an instrument were measured, and found to be influenced by: 1) the importance of the instrument to the task hierarchy, 2) the physical location of the instruments on the display, and 3) the control mode following the transition. Visual fixations were not influenced by the distance and direction of the change in the number of manual control loops. Significant changes in the visual fixations on the secondary and tertiary tasks did not always indicate significant changes in mental workload and situation awareness. Understanding how operators re-allocate visual attention across mode transitions can help system designers create displays and control modes that preserve performance and situation awareness while minimizing workload.