Military cockpits present different challenges for human factors engineers

Military aircraft have much different human factors requirements from commercial aviation, says Dan Wade, vice president of business development at Astronautics Corp. of America in Milwaukee. Military pilots need to keep track of much more information, such as situational awareness for threat assessments, no-fly zones, and night vision.

Astronautics offers a 6-by-8-inch electronic flight instrument (EFI) display, control panel, and engine data concentrator unit for C-130 avionics upgrades worldwide, Wade says.

Avionics upgrades performed by Astronautics Corporation of America for C-130 aircraft were driven by human factors engineering.

Astronautics has patented backlighting technology to adapt to different night-vision goggles being used in the cockpit, Wade says. This is critical because if a pilot wearing night-vision goggles looks at a display using normal lighting it will bloom the goggles and he will be temporarily blinded, he adds.

For one Air Force helicopter program, Astronautics used commercial displays that had too much red and caused the night-vision goggles to bloom. "We've done a lot of work on brightness control" and have achieved near zero in terms of luminescence, he adds. Minimizing reflectivity is also important, especially in aircraft with canopies, Wade says.

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February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2

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