BISHOP Thesis submission Conferral slightupdates 2Dec2022.pdf (3.26 MB)

Exploring Mental Workload in Aviation Training

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posted on 2023-11-20, 01:58 authored by Ronald BishopRonald Bishop, Jim Mitchell, Talitha BestTalitha Best
The increasing complexity of aviation training requirements and aircraft cockpit arrangements influence the mental workload (MWL) of pilots. One area of aviation training that demands further exploration is the MWL experienced by pilots across recreational aircraft (RA) and traditional general aviation (GA) aircraft training fleets. The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between methods of presenting aeronautical data and MWL. There is a special interest in comparing the pilots’ experience in flying technically advanced (glass cockpit) recreational aircraft and analogue gauge equipped general aviation aircraft. The negative impact of high MWL on performance, the implications of high MWL on flight safety, and the lack of empirical research of MWL in student pilots, was the motivation of this research. Consequently, the rationale is to apply and explore theoretical models of mental workload to understand the experience of student pilots in aviation. To assess MWL of student pilots within the flight training environment, two studies were conducted to measure MWL during flight and simulation. Study one measured MWL during real flights between cockpit configurations and study two was a copy of study one using a simulator configured as an analogue cockpit and glass cockpit. Due to the increase of simulation during flight training, flight simulations of analogue and glass cockpits were explored to assess the student experience of MWL. A workload assessment tool (NASA-TLX) combined with semi-structured interviews was used after actual and simulated circuit flights. Data was analysed for significance between flights and participant demographics. The results indicated higher MWL across both measures in the glass cockpit RA actual flight when compared with the analogue gauge GA actual aircraft flight. Likewise, text and conceptual content analysis were conducted on the semi-structured interview results revealing higher MWL for the glass cockpit RA flight. The simulation results were different for the workload assessment, with the analogue gauge GA simulation scoring slightly higher. However, the interviewees reported the glass cockpit RA simulation required much more MWL when compared to the analogue gauge GA simulation. Therefore, the higher perceived MWL of RA simulation can be considered in future training to expand awareness of training demands.



Central Queensland University

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • Traditional