Currently, I am the student of CS in aviation. My project is about research in UI for board system (Boeing).

Now I have the necessary technical documentation and examples of current interfaces (to define weak places mostly) but I have no opportunity to speak with potential customers/pilots. However, I have an experience in programming to build some lightweight simulator propose it for testing in my university.

So, are there anybody with the experience for aircraft/automotive interfaces? What should I read first or to be familiar with? What are sticking points there?


  1. How to define main indicators to show (in what place, their representation type)


 1.1. Process of prototyping for ECAM 
 1.2. Process of prototyping for engine monitors
  1. Pilot's perception and cognitive loading (some articles or books on this topic) There is usually aircraft flight manual, where described limitations and technical issues. How can use it for signal conditions and displaying it? In what way I can "merge" signals (so the interface has fewer controls and instruments?) Look at the pictures below

Falcon 900B

Falcon 900B

Falcon 900EX

Falcon 900EX

closed as too broad by Mayo, Graham Herrli, Devin, tohster, JohnGB Mar 21 '16 at 0:03

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • interesting question, not my area of expertise but I'm excited to see if anyone can provide some good reference materials etc. Particularly as there is an interesting tension between physical and digital interfaces in this instance i.e. physical controls my be less accurate but more reliable and so on... – Chris Mar 18 '16 at 14:03
  • 5
    This is a huge question. Having previously worked as a Human Factors Engineer for a certain aviation company in the Pacific Northwest for near a decade, I'm familiar with a lot of material... but it is a lot, like a ton! Nothing on an airplane is done without a great deal of usability, HCI, ergonomics, and multiple other disciplines behind it. What area are you investigating? Can you narrow the question down to a specific element/area within an aircraft and the usability questions around it? – Evil Closet Monkey Mar 18 '16 at 15:36
  • @EvilClosetMonkey thank you for a feedback. I tried to narrow the question in the main post. So there are my starting points and now I am looking for the particular interesting area, where such investigation is needed (working on my diploma topic now). It will be great to hear some interesting cases from you (what problems you faced and in what ways you build your solutions). – Ryna Rudenko Mar 18 '16 at 21:20
  • Hi @RynaRudenko. Can you further clarify "4. Recognition and pilot's reception"? Are you asking about the pilot's perception of the state of the system/aircraft and their ability to recognize conditions? – Evil Closet Monkey Mar 18 '16 at 21:56
  • You might also want to consider breaking this apart into a few different questions. I would see bullets 1-3 as one question and questions 4, 5, and 6 are questions too. I might also suggest phrasing them as "How does... " instead of "Can you give me examples?" – Evil Closet Monkey Mar 18 '16 at 22:02

Like Evil Closet Monkey says in his comment, there is a huge amount of information on this topic. Redesigning the entire flight deck would take a lifetime of work. For a classroom assignment or even a thesis, you’ll need to scope it down to a single function, system, or even a single display.

There is an entire subfield within human factors engineering called “aviation psychology” that covers the issues you are concerned with. So, for a general background, search for it on Amazon or wherever for textbooks on the topic. These books sometimes discuss specific accidents and events and their implications.

For more up-to-date information on specific issues, there’s university (e.g., U of IL’s Institute of Aviation) and government (e.g., NASA, FAA, NTL) research articles and reports (my examples are all US, because that’s what I know; I’m sure there are other excellent non-US sources). You can use Google Scholar too.

For more specific guidance on the design of displays you’ve mentioned, I’d download the following from the FAA’s website:

There are probably other ACs that apply depending on the specific systems you’re making a UI for (e.g., ECAM/EICAS, moving maps, TCAS). Other sources are industry standards groups like RTCA, EUROCAE, and SAE Aerospace. Each publish standards on specific systems that includes guidance for UI design. They aren’t free for non-members but your university library might have them or can get them for you.

You say you have flight manuals, so that will give you good background on current practices. I’d use them not only to identify weak points in the UI but also for things to keep, if for no other reason than pilots are used to them. If you’re not a pilot, consider getting a flight simulator game for modern-day aircraft. Many are quite realistic on the appearance and behavior of the digital avionics. Trying out the UIs may give you good intuitions on (a) what pilots are used to, (b) why they designed things the way they did, (c) what could be improved.

  • You give a lot of helpful references, especially what concerned UI guides. I decided to choose the particular display( one of the mentioned upper), find slack and try to propose solutions. Then, after prototyping (with your references and someone else from the community) I will build program simulator using random-generated data (analog and discrete signals) and rules (Aircraft Flight Manual) to output them on a monitor for further testing. So, it is my very brief plan :) Thank you for a great advice – Ryna Rudenko Mar 19 '16 at 18:19

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