Heart rate responses to real and simulated BA Hawk MK 51 flight.Aviat Space Environ Med. 1997 Jul; 68(7):601-5.AS
The effects of psychological workload on inflight heart rate were studied in five experienced (flight instructors) and five less experienced (cadets) military pilots of the Finnish Air Force (FAF).
The subjects performed the same flight mission twice; first with the BA Hawk MK 51 simulator with minimal G-forces and after that with the BA Hawk MK 51 jet trainer with Gz-forces below +2. The mission included: a) 2 min rest after seating; b) take-off; c) ILS approach in the minimum weather conditions (initial, intermediate and final approach); d) landing tour (visual approach); and e) landing. The heart rates were continuously measured using a small portable recorder developed at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The R-R intervals were stored and analyzed with an accuracy of 1 ms. The different phases of each flight were marked in the data by using codes given beforehand for each critical event.
The take-off resulted in a significant increase in the heart rate from the resting levels both in the cadets and the flight instructors in both planes. In the simulator the heart rate decreased during the initial approach and slightly increased after it during the intermediate approach. Thereafter the heart rate decreased during the landing tour which seemed to be the least psychologically demanding phase of the simulated flight. The heart rate increased again during the landing but did not exceed the heart rates measured during the take-off and the ILS-approach. There were no statistical differences between the groups. In the jet trainer no decrease in the heart rate could be observed immediately after the take-off, unlike in the case of the simulated flight. The inflight heart rate increased during the final approach, decreased during the landing tour and finally increased during the landing. According to the heart rate analysis the final approach was the most loaded phase of the real flight. The changes towards the phases of final approach and landing were greater among the flight instructors.
There were no statistically significant differences between the mean heart rates during the real and the simulated flight. It is suggested that the heart rate changes for most reflected the changes in cognitive workload.