Changes in Pilot Control Behaviour across Stewart Platform Motion Systems
Flight simulators provide an effective, efficient, and safe environment for practising flight-critical manoeuvres without requiring a real aircraft. In general, high-performance full flight simulators are used for training tasks that require simulator motion, although low-cost motion systems have been proposed for certain training tasks that only require limited motion cues. These systems have shorter stroke actuators, lower bandwidth, and higher motion noise. The influence of these characteristics on pilot perception and control behaviour is unknown. In this thesis, this is investigated by simulating a model of a simulator with limited capabilities on a high-end simulator. The simulator limitations, which consist of a platform filter, time delay, and noise characteristics, can then be removed one by one and their effect on control behaviour studied in isolation. Pilot perception and control behaviour was identified in an experimental closed-loop control task. The time delay and noise characteristics of the simulators did not have an effect on pilot behaviour. However, it was found that the bandwidth of the motion system had a significant effect on performance and control behaviour. Results indicate that the motion cues were barely used at all in conditions with a low bandwidth, and that participants relied on the visual cues to perform the control task. The approach used in this thesis provided valuable insight into changes in pilot response dynamics that form the basis of observed changes in performance. The results demonstrated that simulator motion cues must be considered carefully in piloted control tasks in simulators and that measured results depend on simulator characteristics as pilots adapt their control behaviour to the available cues.