A Pilot's Eyes, Instruments, And Learning...

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Starting Simple Proves Best

A new study at the University of Southern California suggests that the best way for pilots to train is to first learn on clear, low-clutter displays, which allow the eye to focus and quickly identify targets or patterns. When that training is followed by drills on "noisy," high-clutter displays, the eye quickly adapts. Research subjects who were trained in the opposite way -- starting with noisy displays then switching to simple ones -- didn't show the same progress. "That was a huge surprise to us," said researcher Zhong-Lin Lu. "Now you can simplify training a lot. ... High-noise training comes for free." Does this mean that pilots have an advantage in training on relatively simple-gauge instrument panels, then moving up to more "cluttered" electronic displays? The research didn't directly explore that question, but stay tuned. The findings appear in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.