The core system is an open-source flight simulator (FlightGear, www.flightgear.org) that accepts control inputs that are processed by a designated aircraft model to compute the appropriate world position and orientation of a modelled aircraft. Subsequently, these values are used to render the corresponding display of the world scene as seen from the cockpit, via a computing cluster for 10 wide-screen monitors.
Our system is equipped to record implicit behavioral responses. A remote eyetracking system (2 stereo-heads, 60 Hz; Facelab, Seeing Machines, USA) monitors the pilot's line-of-sight in the world scene as well as gaze on the heads-down instrument panel. Physiological measurements of the pilot are also recorded in tandem using a 16-channel active electrode system (g.Tec Medical Engineering GmbH, Austria). This system can be used to monitor the pilot's galvanic skin response, heart-rate variability and electro-encephalographic signals.There are two control systems for the flight simulator that both feature generic helicopter controls such as a cyclic stick, a collective stick, and pedals. One system is unactuated and serves as any common joystick, while the other system consists of motorized controls (Wittenstein AG, Germany). This actuated system can be configured to resemble a wide range of control system dynamics, and can provide haptic feedback cues to the pilot. These cues can be used to support the pilot's situational awareness.