Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


The control of an aircraft relies on sensory feedback. It follows that any aspect that could create a situation where that feedback is faulty can lead to unintended outcomes. The size of very large jet aircraft can result in kinematic effects that impact the perceptions of the flight crew. Due to the large amount of inertia involved, coupled with aerodynamic factors, when the aircraft pitch (θ) is initially changed, the short term actual motion of the aircraft, as viewed from the center of gravity, remains relatively unchanged. As a consequence of aircraft design, this results in the flight deck changing relative height as a consequence of the vertical rotation while the flight path stays relatively constant. Near to the ground (when external visual cues of height are most needed), a pilot may incorrectly believe that the aircraft flight path has changed when it has not. Furthermore, in large aircraft the eye-height of the pilot when landing is quite high, and thus increases the probability that the pilot will not be aware of relatively small changes in actual aircraft height. The aircraft pitch changes and large height off the ground can result in the pilot becoming unaware of the aircraft height during landing with serious consequences. Once recognized, all of these factors can be mitigated through training and visual aids. Further research should be conducted and pilots should be trained to recognize and mitigate the kinematic issues pertinent to large transport aircraft.