The psychophysiological assessment method for pilot's professional reliability.Aviat Space Environ Med. 1997 May; 68(5):368-72.AS
Previous research has shown that a pilot's professional reliability depends on two relative factors: the pilot's functional state and the demands of task workload. The Psychophysiological Reserve Capacity (PRC) is defined as a pilot's ability to accomplish additive tasks without reducing the performance of the primary task (flight task).
We hypothesized that the PRC was a mirror of the pilot's functional state. The purpose of this study was to probe the psychophysiological method for evaluating a pilot's professional reliability on a simulator.
The PRC Comprehensive Evaluating System (PRCCES) which was used in the experiment included four subsystems: a) quantitative evaluation system for pilot's performance on simulator; b) secondary task display and quantitative estimating system; c) multiphysiological data monitoring and statistical system; and d) comprehensive evaluation system for pilot PRC. Two studies were performed. In study one, 63 healthy and 13 hospitalized pilots participated. Each pilot performed a double 180 degrees circuit flight program with and without secondary task (three digit operation). The operator performance, score of secondary task and cost of physiological effort were measured and compared by PRCCES in the two conditions. Then, each pilot's flight skill in training was subjectively scored by instructor pilot ratings. In study two, 7 healthy pilots volunteered to take part in the experiment on the effects of sleep deprivation on pilot's PRC. Each participant had PRC tested pre- and post-8 h sleep deprivation.
The results show that the PRC values of a healthy pilot was positively correlated with abilities of flexibility, operating and correcting deviation, attention distribution, and accuracy of instrument flight in the air (r = 0.27-0.40, p < 0.05), and negatively correlated with emotional anxiety in flight (r = -0.40, p < 0.05). The values of PRC in healthy pilots (0.61 +/- 0.17) were significantly higher than that of hospitalized pilots (0.43 +/- 0.15) (p < 0.05). The PRC value after 8 h sleep loss (0.50 +/- 0.17) was significantly lower than those before sleep loss (0.70 +/- 0.15) (p < 0.05).
We conclude that a pilot's PRC, which was closely related to flight ability and functional state, could partly represent the pilot's professional reliability. It is worthwhile to further research using a pilot's PRC as a predictor of mental workload in aircraft design.