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The complexity of computer systems in the a-10


foxfour
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Not even close to being relevant. No amount of system tweaking would have saved him from that one, save for a timely 'pull up' command, which may not necessarily be possible.

I should have said "reports," I wasn't referring to any particular one. Just the idea that attention can become focused on particular items in exclusion of other important aspects of flight, and that the brain can get swamped with information. I'm not sure why you'd consider the entire literature on human factors in aviation irrelevant, but that's ok.

 

Sounds like more stuff that can break and has no direct combat application. This is why the pilot chooses what to de-clutter and when, or if not, they may have procedures for it.

There are limits to expertise. All I'm saying is that brains have bandwidth limitations and narrowing the flow in stressful situations isn't a particularly radical idea. It's not a trivial engineering task but not a useless one. Anything that decreases a pilot's workload has a direct combat application, insofar as it improves his performance.

 

A HOTAS simplifies the mechanical tasks of weapons employment. Would you say that it is more stuff that might break and has no direct combat application? The same applies to a system to scale information display based on attention limits.

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Totally apples and oranges right there. A HOTAS gives vast benefits specifically because it increases pilot capabilities without removing anything from him.

 

Removing information based on some classification of his estimated workload however does take something away from him. He can declutter stuff when and if he wants to. I don't even really understand what it is you think is being the problem - as far as the simulator goes, when I'm fighting I don't stall up on information all over the place. I fly my plane, do whatever is needed to deploy my weapons, and look only in places that are relevant to this. Typically these places will be:

 

1) Outside the plane.

2) HUD cues when performing weapon deliveries

3) MFCD when delivering AGM's.

 

There are declutter options there if I would need them, I've personally never felt I did, but they are there. I really don't understand what it is you feel are contributing to pilot saturation in the A-10C? Specifically, this:

 

"As the rate of actions increases, simplify the HUD display"

 

...is, in my opinion, and absolutely horrible idea. Do NOT remove information from me. I'll either ignore it when I don't need it, or take a quick look at it when and if I do need it. I mean, it's not like the two data blocks on the HUD are a terrible eyesore - I barely even notice that they even exist unless I'm specifically using them to find out some distance to a waypoint or whatever. Why remove something that I usually ignore, but might find useful? What if your system considered me to be really heavily engaged (with me being so), and you clear out those clunky little data boxes. And then, there I am, on the radio, trying to stay alive while quickly telling a flight of F-15's where exactly I am - and I don't have any reference to give them without looking down inside the cockpit at MFCD's and stuff. Wonderful! :P

 

And of course, like GG said - what about times when it's just getting it wrong? What about times when the system fails and does something it shouldn't? In a combat environment, that can kill me, and if you want to get a saturated pilot the easiest way to do so is to deny him easy access to whatever information he needs and thus send him trying to quickly squirrel around heads-down in the pit to get it ASAP. That's a good way to get yourself a CFIT. :P

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I can imagine a fairly basic scheme. A system would keep track of "actions" - switch flips, button presses, pickles, maybe maneuvers as well. Include a basic metric for "engaged" - RWR indications could be a simple one. As the rate of actions increases, simplify the HUD display. Or you could go further and track the pilot's eye movements - fixation might trigger a warning or cause HUD simplification.

No.

First of all, indicator dissapearing catches my attention a stop me doing on whatever I was focusing on.

Second, indicators dissapearing on its own automatically imply to me that something is broken and I have to do a damage check.

 

Btw, I'm still eager to know where this overclutter is in the A-10 hud, because I personally find it pretty clean and simple.

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I'd trust the military design. I'm sure these interfaces are done in cooperation with combat proven test pilots who know what's needed and where to put it. There things are tested "to the death", i confident they make everything as intuitive as possible.

 

And there IS a progress, some say that operating an apache is like playing a video game, not to mention the F35 with its touchscreens. There's definitively progress where possible.

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I still remember installing Word and seeing Clippo and how much I hated those seconds where he would appear before having the option to remove him from sight before calmly going to the options menu to hide him forever.

Also those "collapsed" menus that would hide things based on times used. Actually I find it easier to memorize the position of a menu item within a dozen other items that I don't even know, than having to parse two or three "dynamic" commonly used functions to find the one I need.

 

So I do think an EXPERT operator doesn't benefit from arbitrary active decluttering.

 

A different thing is alert presentation, where a "what's new" or "appearance order" would be very beneficial I think, in order to eliminate those seconds where you're trying to figure out what all those simultaneous alerts mean. But maybe were I a true pro I might not find that useful at all.

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"Engineering is the art of modelling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyse so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance." (Dr. A. R. Dykes - British Institution of Structural Engineers, 1976)

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