Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Bhckensderfer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Shawn Doherty, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. James Pharmer, Ph.D.


The aviation community strives for air travel to be the safest form of transportation. The National Transportation Safety Board published a “Most Wanted” list to acknowledge the most threatening safety issues, and runway safety and runway incursions were at the top of their list. Furthermore, runway incursion statistics by the Federal Aviation Administration show that pilot deviations were the most common cause for runways incursions. Misunderstandings of airport diagrams may be one reason for pilot deviations. While navigating through airport taxiways, pilots refer to their airport diagrams as a map of the airport. Unfortunately, airport diagrams are not designed with the pilot in mind. This study attempted to redesign airport diagrams to incorporate principles of cognitive psychology. The redesigned airport diagrams included decreasing extra information, increasing overall size, and adding color. The study measured the participant’s situational awareness and deviations throughout six simulated taxiing tasks. The results were not statistically significant. The results showed evidence of a ceiling effect which may indicate that the taxiing tasks were too easy to show performance differences. This research issues should not be abandoned. However, future studies should include increased workload within the experimental tasks to create a more realistic cockpit environment.