Eye tracking technology can be a major game changer for pilot training, giving participants and trainers valuable feedback and ultimately improving safety. Through the use of unique eye and face tracking sensor technologies, with a focus on alertness and attention, flight and human factors instructors are provided with important data to understand and improve human performance in the cockpit.
In the quest for greater automation, operating modern cockpit’s are presenting new challenges that traditional training methods are not adequately addressing. These challenges include; insufficient knowledge of automation behaviour, mode confusion and loss of awareness, poor scanning techniques, over-confidence and trust in automation. These are now recognised within aviation academia as prevalent threats to the safe operations in modern helicopter operations, both on and off-shore. Addressing and rectifying these deficiencies is, however, quite difficult.
As an example, poor visual scanning is emerging as a challenge in automated system, which can lead to adverse safety outcomes. The fatal ditching of an Airbus AS332 L2 Super Puma near Sumburgh Airport, UK, in 2013, is just one example where inappropriate use of autopilot modes was cited as a cause.
The seeing eye technology now in use in the AW139 Full Flight simulator is unique. It is a non-wearable, unobtrusive system that can be adapted and integrated into various real-world environments to provide new data to significantly improve training and optimise operational outcomes.
In March 2019, Toll Helicopters and Seeing Machines confirmed a unique eye tracking technology trial in the AW-139 Full Flight Simulator. The trial is based on Seeing Machines’ Crew Training System prototype which incorporates modern eye tracking technology. The system supports aviation training instructors, pilots and crewmen with intelligent, evidence based data to provide detailed insights into pilot scanning techniques and situational awareness.
The trial will build on insights gathered from smaller trials conducted over the past 24 months, which have produced tangible benefits for pilots, aircrewmen and instructors. An introduction and demonstration, along with initial insights, can be shared at the ASA+FNA 2019 Conference in October by a current Pilot / Flight Examiner.