Date of Award

Summer 2012

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Shawn Doherty, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Albert Bouquet, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Michael Wiggins, Ed.D.


Change blindness is a phenomenon where the viewer fails to detect change in an object or scene during a visual disturbance. During a flight, a pilot samples multiple displays for information about the task at hand. It is imperative that the changes in the displays are being correctly viewed by pilots to ensure a safe flight. However, it is unknown how much change blindness affects pilots or if pilot expertise plays a role in change detection.

A change blindness experiment was performed with twenty four participants divided into two groups based on expertise. Expert pilots were defined as instructor pilots with an average of 952 flight hours and novice pilots were student pilots with an average of 80 flight hours. There were a total of 24 images that were presented to participants during a flicker paradigm that was used to induce change blindness and assess change detection within cockpit instruments by the pilots. Images were static depictions of the primary cockpit displays.

Results showed that there were no significant differences between expert pilots and novice pilots when detecting change in displays. The results did show that there was significant difference in location display. It was found that the ADI was the most commonly viewed display with other instruments slower in terms of detection. No difference was found for accuracy in all cases. Results indicate that future research is still needed in change blindness and aviation domain.