Warplanes: Videogames In The F-22 Cockpit


March 16, 2009: The cockpits of the new F-22 and F-35 jet fighters look like a video game controller that just grew, and grew. Multiple flat screens (plus the data being shown on your helmet visor), driven by a few controls to flip through the dozens of different data screens you can call up. Concerned about how long it would take pilots to learn how to deal with all this information, the U.S. Air Force Pilot Training Aid (PTA) developed a simulator that would run on a PC. This ran on a laptops as well, with the addition of a HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) device you plugged into a USB port, and used to interact with hitting keys to manipulate the displays. The PTA was tried out on some high school kids, and the air force developers found that the kids, who had grown up with video games, took right to it. Basically, the trainee pilots had to play a lot with the flood of incoming data from the F-22 sensors, and learn to make the most of it.

Next, the F-35 test pilots were shown the PTA, as the F-35 has a similar data overload situation. These were also fairly young guys, and some still played video games. They also liked PTA. Then it was shown to existing F-22 pilots. Again, applause all around. So now the PTA is used to student pilots headed for F-22s and F-35 training, as a good way to inoculate them from information overload when they first climb into the simulator, and then cockpit, of these fifth generation aircraft.


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