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PRIMARY FLIGHT DISPLAY

On July 1, 2009, Airfrance 447 was scheduled to fly from Brazil to France, but the flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all passengers and aircrew. The cause of the crash was attributed to a lack of situational awareness on the plane’s displays and miscommunication between the pilots. It began when the air speed sensor, called a pitot tube, froze over and stopped functioning, which caused the autopilot to disengage and shifted control back to the pilots. The situation was not properly diagnosed, causing the plane to stall, and ultimately, crash into the ocean. 

Design Challenge
Redesign the AirBus 330 primary flight display to address the challenges that contributed to the Airfrance 447 accident

Role
Research, concept and problem articulation, interface design

Team
Roy Kim (UX), Irene Ma (HCDE) and Carolyn Wong (HCDE) 

 

Completed  
Autumn 2013

PROCESS

Research
We began our research by mapping out the Airfrance accident and using a timeline to identify possibilities for design interventions. 

Design Principles
- Place relevant information at the center of attention
- Display data so that it is easier to interpret 
- Make it easier to take corrective action 
- Show what is happening and why it's important 
- Provide future status 

Design Interventions
- Pitot tube alert, prior to auto pilot disengage 
- Autopilot disengage alert 
- Approach to stall alert with recovery procedure 
- General lack of communication between pilots

The Primary Flight Display of the Air France 447

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THE PRIMARY FLIGHT DISPLAY: FINAL PRODUCT 

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Features of the Primary Flight Display