Date of Award

Spring 1996

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Aeronautical Science


Aeronautical Science

Committee Chair

John A. Wise, Ph. D.

Committee Member

David W. Abbott, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Daniel J. Garland, Ph. D.


Aircraft require high cognitive quality aircraft attitude information. Evidence will be presented on aircrew decision-making performance on an unusual attitude recovery task using three different types of attitude displays. Results indicated that among a sample of low-flight time student pilots attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, mean reaction times were significantly faster and error rates significantly lower using an outside-in pictorial display than with either an outside-in symbolic display or an attitude gyro. This is attributed to the pictorial display being a more intuitive display by providing a more natural or realistic representation of aircraft orientation than the other two displays. The attitude gyro may violate the pilot's mental model of motion relationships with the world, in which the aircraft, not the horizon, is the dynamic element. While the symbolic display does not do this, it does use complex coding of information which appears to require higher level cognitive processing than the pictorial display.