Now You See It, Now You Don’t: A Change Blindness Assessment of Flight Display Complexity and Pilot Performance

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10906)


Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS) provide a revolutionary new technology for modern aircraft flight decks, changing the way pilots see the world by merging a high-resolution representation of their immediate terrain and surroundings underneath the traditional primary flight instruments. Despite its operational benefits, there may be challenges to the effective use of SVS and little research has focused on pilot performance measures. Using custom designed flight display images and a novel Flicker Paradigm, an experiment was designed to measure pilot response time to visual cues on both SVS and conventional electronic displays and also for different levels of pilot experience. Results indicated that change detection was impaired with the SVS display across the pilot ranks. Pilots were typically seven seconds slower and made more errors using the SVS display, supporting other research that suggests that the background complexity of SVS hampers the speed and accuracy of identifying visual cues. Contrary to what was expected, first officers performed both quicker and more accurately than captains. Perhaps this signals the first signs of a new crop of pilots who have been trained using 21st century synthetic and electronic flight displays in today’s light training aircraft.


Avionics Synthetic vision systems Change blindness Pilot performance Flicker paradigm 



This research was part of an MSc Thesis and therefore not formally funded. The authors acknowledge the support of Zetta Jet Flight Department, specifically Eric Rastler Chief Pilot, for granting approval to conduct the research using company personnel.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Mobility and TransportCoventry UniversityCoventryUK

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