An Objective Look at Helicopter Automation from a Test Pilot's Point of View
Published February 1, 1982 by SAE International in United States
Annotation of this paper is available
This paper will discuss some considerations regarding man-machine interface during helicopter instrument flight.
Several misconceptions have existed regarding FAA helicopter IFR certification. In response to some concerns pertaining to “excessive workload considerations,” designers have responded with several configurations. Some of these configurations have highlighted the need to educate the designer and the pilot population that the pilot must have the option to “actively participate” in the flight activity during helicopter IFR operations. “Active participation” includes the option of flying the vehicle through the normal flight controls.
In addition, there has been some confusion regarding the terms “stability augmentation systems” and “autopilot.” Some individuals use the terms interchangeably. This paper will discuss the various lessons learned during FAA certification of helicopters for IFR flight from a certification test pilot's viewpoint.
It is the opinion of the author that automation devices should be available to the pilot to assist him in his tasks. The automation should not be used to replace the pilot in the performance of piloting tasks. If the pilot tasks offer little physical activity, it fails to be intrinsically motivating and amounts to a task of monitoring a machine. It is also reasonable to assume that the low activity level during normal operations may lead to an overloaded situation during failure conditions. In other words, it might be possible for a pilot to find himself in a position where the more he operates a vehicle, the less proficient (and safe) he becomes.