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Operator’s Guide to Human Factors in Aviation. Human Performance and Limitations. Managing Visual Somatogravic Illusions. Operator’s Guide to Human Factors in Aviation. Human Performance and Limitations. Managing Visual Somatogravic Illusions. 1. Introduction to the vestibular system.

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Operator’s Guide to

Human Factors in Aviation

Human Performance and

Limitations

Managing Visual

Somatogravic Illusions


Operator’s Guide to

Human Factors in Aviation

Human Performance and

Limitations

Managing Visual Somatogravic Illusions

1. Introduction to the vestibular system

2. Somatogyral illusions

3. Somatogravic illusions

4. Conclusion

To be used with:

Briefing Note Vestibular System and Illusions

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


1. Introduction to the vestibular system

Labyrinths

Visual input

Proprioceptive

input

Gaze stabilisation

Orientation in space

Balance

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Location of the vestibular system
Location of the vestibular system

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Six degrees of freedom
Six degrees of freedom

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


The human inner ear
The human inner ear

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Anterior canal

Cochlea

N. cochlearis

Utriculus

Horizontal canal

Sacculus

N. vestibularis

Posterior canal

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Mechanism of rotation detection
Mechanism of rotation detection

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


  • The driving stimulus for the semicircular canal sensory cells is angular acceleration

  • The canal dynamics, however, have an integrating function and convert acceleration into angular rate

  • Under conditions of sustained rotation, the elastic properties of the cupula (the membrane with the detectors) drive it back to its zero position after ± 7 seconds

  • Despite the existence of a velocity storage mechanism in the brain, after 20 to 30 seconds there is no accurate detection of movement

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Transient rotations typically for head movements are perfectly detected
Transient rotations, typically for head movements, are perfectly detected

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Sustained rotations are not appropriately detected
Sustained rotations are not appropriately detected perfectly detected

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Somatogyral illusion
Somatogyral illusion perfectly detected

  • A somatogyral illusion is

    • A false sensation of rotation or absence of rotation

    • Any discrepancy between actual and perceived rate of self-rotation

  • It originates in the inability of the semicircular canals to register accurately prolonged rotation (> 30 s), e.g. banking during a holding pattern

  • The operation window of the canals corresponds to ‘physiological’ frequencies, i.e. 0.1 – 5 Hz

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Somatogyral illusion example the graveyard spin
Somatogyral illusion example: perfectly detected the graveyard spin

  • Suppose the aircraft makes a sustained turn.

  • After ± 30s, the canals stop responding, and the brain has no sense of turning any more.

  • If the trajectory of the aircraft is now straightened, the brain senses a turn in the opposite direction due to the angular deceleration.

  • The pilot perceives a turn in the opposite direction

  • He may erroneously correct for this illusory spin and re-enter the original turn to compensate, so that he perceives stable flight.

  • Additionally, his gaze may be disturbed by the nystagmus of his eyes, that disables clear reading of the solely reliable instruments.

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Solution to somatogyral illusions
Solution to somatogyral illusions perfectly detected

  • Rely on the flight instruments – never on your perception ( your internal instruments)

  • Make the instruments read right !

  • When nystagmus disturbs your vision – fixate on a nearby fixed point on the instrument panel

    • Converging the eyes also diminishes nystagmus

  • Continuously remember that sustained rotations are, by definition, misperceived by the equilibrium system

  • Visual information is of a higher order than vestibular information

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Is this right
Is this right? perfectly detected

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Make the instruments read right perfectly detected

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Acceleration detectors

Utricle perfectly detected

Saccule

Acceleration detectors

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Principle of otolith organ function
Principle of otolith organ function perfectly detected

The otoliths consist of calcium carbonate ‘stones’ embedded in a gelatinous substance. When the head moves, the inertia or weight of the stones bends the hair cells and thus activates nerve cells, sending a signal to the brain proportional to the amount of head movement.

Driving stimulus equals linear accelerations, change of orientation with respect to gravity

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


The otolith membrane in the inner ear
The otolith membrane in the inner ear perfectly detected

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Ambiguity of the otolithic membrane action
Ambiguity of the otolithic membrane action perfectly detected

Backward Tilt

=

Forward acceleration

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Ambiguity of the otolithic membrane action1
Ambiguity of the otolithic membrane action perfectly detected

Forward Tilt

=

Deceleration

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Gravito inertial acceleration
Gravito-inertial acceleration perfectly detected

  • The gravito-inertial acceleration (GIA) is the vector sum of the vector of gravitational acceleration (upward) and all other linear accelerations acting on the head

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Somatogravic illusion
Somatogravic illusion perfectly detected

  • A somatogravic illusion is a false sensation of body tilt that results from perceiving as vertical the direction of non-vertical gravito-inertial acceleration or force

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Somatogravic illusion during takeoff
Somatogravic illusion during takeoff perfectly detected

  • The somatogravic illusion of ‘nose-up’ sensation after takeoff and the erroneous correction of the pilot to push the yoke forward has caused more than a dozen airline crashes

  • An aircraft accelerating from 170 to 200 knots over a period of 10 seconds just after takeoff, generates +0.16 G on the pilot

  • The GIA is only 1.01 G

  • The corresponding sensation is 9 degrees ‘nose up’

  • When no visual cues are present and the instruments are ignored, an unwary pilot might push the nose down and crash

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control



Somatogravic illusion during final approach
Somatogravic illusion during final approach perfectly detected

  • An inexperienced pilot may perceive deceleration due to lowering the flaps as a steep nose-down sensation

  • On the runway, before the nose wheel touches down, the deceleration may be perceived as a too-low vertical attitude.

  • An erroneous correction to bring the nose up may cause damage

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control



Caution
Caution perfectly detected

  • 21 percent of approach-and-landing accidents involved disorientation or visual illusion

  • Flying in the simulator can provoke some of these illusions, but the GIA never exceeds 1 G and can not mimic the somatogravic illusion of false nose-up sensation due to acceleration or nose- down one due to deceleration

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Conclusion
Conclusion perfectly detected

  • Would the best pilots be those who have no ‘misleading’ vestibular organ?

  • No, because they would not be able to stabilize their gaze to read the instruments

  • However, being aware of the misleading information of the vestibular organ is crucial; humans are not designed to fly

  • Debrief on your erroneous perceptions and realize that it is a perfectly human and normal sensation (we can’t help it). But, it is not suitable for flying

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Conclusion cont
Conclusion cont. perfectly detected

  • Confidence, competence and currency in instrument flying greatly reduces the risk of disorientation

  • Prioritize the workload; first fly the aircraft, then do everything else

  • Build up experience controlling the aircraft in an environment of conflicting orientation cues

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Conclusion cont1
Conclusion cont. perfectly detected

  • Avoid disorientation by making frequent instrument cross-checks, even when the autopilot is on

  • Match the instrument readings with your internal mental representation of the flight path

  • Recover from disorientation by:

    • Making the instruments read right, regardless of your sensation

1.HP_11_ Vestibular & Postural Control


Conclusion cont2
Conclusion cont. perfectly detected

  • Don’t trust your built-in equilibrium organs, particularly in low-visibility conditions

  • In moments of stress, make decisions based on the instruments; don’t fall back on your instinct or perceptions

  • Garbage in leads to garbage out.

  • The human equilibrium system is designed to function on land, to chase animals… not to fly aircraft.

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Short calculation
Short calculation perfectly detected

  • 1 knot = 0.514 m/s

  • Acceleration after takeoff:

    • 30 kts/10s = 1.54 m/s2

  • 1 G = 9.81 m/s2

    •  acceleration = 0.16 G

  • GIA = sqrt(12 + 0.162) = 1.01 G

  • Inclination = Arc Tan(0.16/1) = 9 degrees

  • Nose-up impression of 9 degrees


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