Measurement in Aviation Systems
David Meister Human Factors Consultant
One cannot understand measurement in aviation human factors (HF) without knowing a little of its history, which goes back to World War I and even earlier. In that war new aircraft were tested at flight shows and selected in part on the basis of pilot opinion. The test pilots were the great fighter aces, men like Guynemer and von Richtoffen. Such tests were not tests of pilot performance as such, but the pilot and his reactions to the aircraft were a necessary part of the test.
Between the wars human factors participation in aviation system research continued ( Dempsey, 1985). The emphasis in the Army Air Force was primarily medical/physiological. For example, researchers using both animals and men studied the effects of altitude and acceleration on human performance. "Angular accelerations were produced by a 20 ft-diameter centrifuge, while a swing was used to produce linear acceleration" ( Moroney, 1995). Work on anthropometry in relation to aircraft design began in 1935. As early as 1937 a primitive G-suit had been developed. This was also the period when Edwin Link marketed his flight simulator (which became the grandfather of all later flight simulators) as a coin-operatored amusement device.
In World War II efforts in aircrew personnel selection led to the Air-Crew Classification Test Battery to predict success in training and combat ( Taylor & Alluisi, 1993). Human factors specialists were also involved in a wide variety of activities, including determining human tolerance limits for high-altitude bailout, automatic parachute opening devices, cabin pressurization schedules, pressure breathing equipment and protective clothing for use at high altitudes, airborne medevac facilities, and ejection seats ( Van Patten, 1994). Probably the best known of the World War II researchers was Paul Fitts, who worked with his collaborators on aircraft controls and displays ( Fitts & Jones, 1947).____________________