Date of Award

Summer 2003

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Dennis A. Vincenzi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dahai Liu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charlie Bass Ph.D.


Human error remains a significant contributing factor with respect to accidents in civil air transportation. It is therefore crucial to establish avenues by which performance on the flightdeck can be enhanced under conditions of distress. The purpose of this study was to examine whether an unconscious auditory stimulus (UAS) could enhance pilot performance under varying instrument flight (IFR) conditions on the aircraft flightdeck. Forty IFR student pilots underwent two eight-minute simulated flights, whereupon they were presented with different IFR weather conditions. During the trial, the experimental group listened to a UAS, whereas the control group listened to white noise (WN). Performance was measured based on the deviation from the localizer (LOC), the glide slope (GS), and the air speed (AS). It was hypothesized that the UAS would assist in enhancing pilot performance under varying IFR weather conditions, and that overall good weather conditions would degrade performance less than poor weather conditions. The results of this experiment did not support the hypotheses. Possible explanations are presented in the discussion section.

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Aviation Commons