Visual scanning behavior and pilot workload

Aviat Space Environ Med. 1982 Nov;53(11):1067-72.


This paper describes an experimental paradigm and a set of results which demonstrate a relationship between the level of performance on a skilled man-machine control task, the skill of the operator, the level of mental difficulty induced by an additional task imposed on the basic control task, and visual scanning performance. During a constant, simulated piloting task, visual scanning of instruments was found to vary with the difficulty of a verbal mental loading task. The average dwell time of each fixation on the pilot's primary instrument increased with the estimated skill level of the pilot, with novices being affected by the loading task much more than experts. The results suggest that visual scanning of instruments in a controlled task may be an indicator of both workload and skill.

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Attention*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Man-Machine Systems*
  • Professional Competence
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Perception