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Gaze Behavior and Visual Attention: A Review of Eye Tracking Studies in Aviation

Abstract: Objective: The objective of this article was to review a series of studies (n = 50) regarding gaze behavior and performance when piloting an aircraft. Background: Optimal gaze behavior can lead to improved flying performance under both normal and stressful conditions. Method: A computerized as well as a manual search of the literature was conducted. Articles were grouped according to prevalent themes, such as basic cockpit visual scanning, visual scanning in the automated cockpit, effects of new technology on visual scanning, nonnormal flight circumstances, differences between experts and novices, and mathematical models of visual scanning. A summary and key findings for each theme were reported. Results: The review revealed specific gaze behaviors that might be important when performing various flight tasks and when monitoring automated processes, and that can differentiate between expert and novice pilots. However, several concerns arose from the review. Among these concerns are the unexamined role of peripheral vision, the scarcity of studies on in-flight emergencies, and the lack of interventional studies. Conclusion: Specific gaze patterns appear to be related to improved flight performance. Future studies should address the methodological concerns mentioned to better clarify the relationship between gaze behavior and flying performance.
Keywords: Optimal / stressful / themes / cockpit / visual / gaze behavior / differentiate / flight

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