Eye-Tracking Analysis from a Flight-Director-Use and Pilot-Monitoring Study

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition, AIAA AVIATION Forum 2021




Eye tracking may be a useful tool to investigate pilot monitoring and develop and conduct training. There is increased interest from airlines to use eye-tracking technologies in flight simulators. However, much is still unknown about how to best utilize eye-tracking data in pilot training. This paper presents eye-tracking results from a pilot-monitoring training study with 19 pilots. All pilots completed 15 monitoring challenges across four operational scenarios in a B737-700 full flight simulator. In addition, the study investigated the impact of having the flight director engaged or disengaged on the pilot monitoring side in the final approach. It was hypothesized that pilots would focus less on the primary flight display with the flight director off and look more around in the cockpit. To assess this, pilots performed half of the scenarios with the flight director on and half with the flight director off. However, pilots monitoring tended to look less at the primary flight display with the flight director on as indicated by lower Proportion Dwell Times, contrary to the hypothesis. Next, eye-tracking data were analyzed from two monitoring challenges involving waypoint restrictions and two involving extending the flaps at appropriate airspeeds. Pilots that successfully completed the challenges appeared to focus more on areas of interest that contained the most relevant information to successfully complete the challenge. In addition, successful pilots seemed to adapt their monitoring strategy more to the challenge at hand as observed by a distinct shift in focus on either the primary flight display or the navigation display depending on the challenge. Our findings suggest the importance of flexible gaze allocation across specific situations and raise the question whether and to what degree prespecified patterns of eye fixation can be identified and trained.


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