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The effects of experience and training in the use of a Terrain Enhanced Primary Flight Display for terrain avoidance

, Kansas State University, United States

Kansas State University . Awarded


The prevention of Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) is one of the five goals established by the Presidential commission on aviation safety. The present study examined the history of CFIT prevention and investigated the use of a new terrain awareness display called the Terrain Enhanced Primary Flight Display (TE-PFD). The TE-PFD replaces the representation of the ground in a traditional electronic attitude and direction indicator with a 3-D perspective display of actual terrain. This display format is intended to enhance terrain awareness by providing an ecological interface that depicts terrain in a conformal “out-the-window” view. The present study sought to explore the differences between levels of pilot experience through the manipulation of situational parameters and the application of Signal Detection Theory (SDT) to the identification and avoidance of potential terrain conflicts. In two experiments, the role of pilot experience and of display specific training were addressed. Experiment 1 compared low-time and high-time pilots with non-pilots over a variety of conditions. Experiment 2 investigated the potential for improving non-pilot performance through practice-only training and practice with performance training. Participants in both experiments responded to the flight scenario depicted on the TE-PFD by either selecting a change in heading and/or pitch or selecting a “maintain course” option. Performance was analyzed using SDT parameters and response latency. While there were no differences in sensitivity across levels of pilot experience, there were variations in both response strategies (i.e., bias) and response latencies. The results revealed that pilots (both high-time and low-time) adjusted response bias to compensate for decreased sensitivity. In addition, pilots also adjusted response bias as a function of the immediacy of the impending collision. While all pilots made this latter type of adjustment with respect to the distance between the current position and the terrain, only the more experienced pilots shifted response bias to compensate for changes in airspeed (which also affected the time available to make the required decision).


Peterson, D.A. The effects of experience and training in the use of a Terrain Enhanced Primary Flight Display for terrain avoidance. Ph.D. thesis, Kansas State University. Retrieved July 29, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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