Spatial disorientation is the singular most common factor in human-error aviation accidents, and over ninety percent of those accidents are fatal. Despite advances in aviation over the past one hundred years in both technology and training, spatial disorientation mishaps continue at a steady pace, even though other incidents declining in frequency. Because spatial disorientation is a highly complex phenomena that involves the vestibular system, the visual system, and cognitive factors such as workload and attention, predicting spatial disorientation is extremely difficult. Likewise, exactly replicating spatial disorientation for training purposes is challenging as well as extremely dangerous and costly. The goal of this study was twofold: to understand if innate abilities can predict propensity for spatial disorientation, and to investigate the efficacy of using story-based vignettes – narratives – to train spatial disorientation to increase schematic learning in pilots. Results demonstrated that performance on a spatial orientation task such as the Direction Orientation Task (DOT) is not a reliable predictor for spatial disorientation recognition based on self-report spatial disorientation frequency. In addition, though story-based vignettes demonstrated potential for increased cue recognition over a control training event, significant differences were not found in novel spatial disorientation recognition, critical cue identification, or confidence. These findings indicate that spatial disorientation could be a completely perceptual (bottom-up) task rather than one that is both top-down and bottom-up and implies future research into the ways we describe and measure spatial disorientation in order to understand it as well as train for it.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
School of Modeling, Simulation, and Training
Modeling & Simulation
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Bond, Amanda, "Investigating Mitigation Strategies for Spatial Disorientation" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1519.
Restricted to the UCF community until February 2026; it will then be open access.