General Aviation Weather Alerting: The Effectiveness of Different Visual and Tactile Display Characteristics in Supporting Weather-Related Decision Making Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2017, © 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Objective: This research analyzed the effects of weather technology interface characteristics on the quality and timeliness of weather-related decision making via mental workload and situational awareness (SA) metrics using flight training devices (FTDs) and follow-up in-flight validation testing. Background: A significant number of fatal general aviation (GA) accidents are attributable to pilots flying into instrument meteorological conditions without the necessary certification for safe operation. Even when takeoff conditions are clear, they can degrade in flight. Pilots might consult in-flight  weather technologies to inform flight-plan-related decisions. Method: GA pilots flew 2 scenarios in FTDs while receiving weather notifications (referred to here as alerts) via complex graphical or smart-watch-based visual displays and under different vibrotactile cuing conditions. In-flight testing examined if vibrotactile cuing effects found in simulation were present in real flight. Results: Results suggest the quality and timeliness of weather-related flight decisions and flight-related SA are better supported when displays use vibrotactile cues and embed alert text within maps rather than present it separately on a smart watch. In-flight data confirmed that pilots can reliably perceive vibrotactile cues in real aircraft. Conclusion: Vibrotactile cues improve the reception of notifications and can reduce cognitive demands while flying. Visual weather information should be displayed on larger screens that are positioned to reduce pilots’ postural reorientation. These findings can inform the design of weather technologies for supporting pilot in-flight decision making.

author list (cited authors)

  • Tippey, K. G., Roady, T., Rodriguez-Paras, C., Brown, L. J., Rantz, W. G., & Ferris, T. K.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • October 2017