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Human Factors

How To Prevent Landing Errors Due to Optical Illusions

Human Factors

To prevent optical illusions and their potentially hazardous consequences, pilots can: 1. Anticipate the possibility of visual illusions during approaches to unfamiliar airports, particularly at night or in adverse weather conditions. Consult airport diagrams and the Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) for information on runway slope, terrain, and lighting. 2. Make frequent reference to the altimeter, especially during all approaches, day and night. 3. […]

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Aviation Medical Factors

Human Factors

A “go/no-go” decision based on a pilot’s medical factors is made before each flight. The pilot should not only preflight check the aircraft, but also himself or herself before every flight. A pilot should ask, “Can I pass my medical examination right now?” If the answer is not an absolute “yes,” do not fly. This is especially true for pilots […]

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Optical Illusions

Human Factors

Of the senses, vision is the most important for safe flight.  However, various terrain features and atmospheric conditions can create optical illusions. These illusions are primarily associated with landing. Since pilots must transition from reliance on instruments to visual cues outside the flight deck for landing at the end of an instrument approach, it is imperative they be aware of […]

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Coping with Spatial Disorientation

Human Factors

To prevent illusions and their potentially disastrous consequences, pilots can: 1. Understand the causes of these illusions and remain constantly alert for them. Take the opportunity to understand and then experience spatial disorientation illusions in a device such as a Barany chair, a Vertigon, or a Virtual Reality Spatial Disorientation Demonstrator. 2. Always obtain and understand preflight weather briefings. 3. Before flying […]

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Demonstration of Spatial Disorientation

Human Factors

There are a number of controlled aircraft maneuvers a pilot can perform to experiment with spatial disorientation. While each maneuver will normally create a specific illusion, any false sensation is an effective demonstration of disorientation.  Thus, even if there is no sensation during any of these maneuvers, the absence of sensation is still an effective demonstration in that it shows […]

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Postural Considerations – “Seat of the Pants” Flying

Human Factors

The postural system sends signals from the skin, joints, and muscles to the brain that are interpreted in relation to the Earth’s gravitational pull. These signals determine posture.  Inputs from each movement update the body’s position to the brain on a constant basis. “Seat of the pants” flying is largely dependent upon these signals. Used in conjunction with visual […]

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Illusions Leading to Spatial Disorientation

Human Factors

The sensory system responsible for most of the illusions leading to spatial disorientation is the vestibular system. Visual illusions can also cause spatial disorientation. Vestibular Illusions The Leans A condition called the leans can result when a banked attitude, to the left for example, may be entered too slowly to set in motion the fluid in the “roll” semicircular […]

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Sensory Systems for Orientation: The Ear

Human Factors

The inner ear has two major parts concerned with orientation, the semicircular canals and the otolith organs. [Figure 1-3] The semicircular canals detect angular acceleration of the body while the otolith organs detect linear acceleration and gravity.  The semicircular canals consist of three tubes at right angles to each other, each located on one of three axes: pitch, roll, or […]

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Sensory Systems for Orientation: Vision Under Dim and Bright Illumination

Human Factors

Under conditions of dim illumination, aeronautical charts and aircraft instruments can become unreadable unless adequate flight deck lighting is available. In darkness, vision becomes more sensitive to light. This process is called dark adaptation.  Although exposure to total darkness for at least 30 minutes is required for complete dark adaptation, a pilot can achieve a moderate degree of dark adaptation […]

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