A numerical study of vibration-induced instrument reading capability degradation in helicopter pilots

Aykut Tamer, Andrea Zanoni, Alessandro Cocco, Pierangelo Masarati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Rotorcraft suffer from relatively high vibratory levels, due to exposure to significant vibratory load levels originating from rotors. As a result, pilots are typically exposed to vibrations, which have non-negligible consequences. Among those, one important issue is the degradation of instrument reading, which is a result of complex human-machine interaction. Both involuntary acceleration of the eyes as a result of biodynamics and vibration of the instrument panel contribute to a likely reduction in instrument reading capability, affecting flight safety. Therefore, being able to estimate the expected level of degradation in visual performance may give substantial benefits during vehicle design, allowing to make necessary adjustments while there is room for design changes or when retrofitting an existing aircraft to ensure the modifications do not adversely affect visual acuity and instrument reading ability. For this purpose, simulation is a very valuable tool as a proper model helps to understand the aircraft characteristics before conducting flight tests. This work presents the assessment of vibration-induced visual degradation of helicopter pilots under vibration exposure using a modular analysis environment. Core elements of the suggested analysis framework are an aeroelastic model of the helicopter, a model of the seat-cushion subsystem, a detailed multibody model of the human biodynamics, and a simplified model of ocular dynamics. These elements are combined into a comprehensive, fully coupled model. The contribution of each element to instrument reading degradation is examined, after defining an appropriate figure of merit that includes both eye and instrument panel vibration, in application to a numerical model representative of a medium-weight helicopter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-440
Number of pages13
JournalCEAS Aeronautical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

This work received partial support from Leonardo Helicopter Division. The authors particularly acknowledge LHD for providing part of the data used in the analysis.


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