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When Does the MCDU Interface Work Well?  (2002)
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"The Multi-function Control and Display Unit (MCDU), introduced to the commercial aircraft flightdeck in the 1970's, has been identified as a source of the issues pilots have transitioning to glass cockpits. Several aircraft manufacturers and avionics vendors have committed to replace the MCDU with graphical user-interfaces in the next generation of commercial aircraft.

A cognitive task analysis of pilot-MCDU interaction identified the failure to complete mission tasks using the MCDU is not a consequence of the physical dimensions or layout of the device. Instead, issues with operation of the MCDU can be attributed to: (a) significant reformulation of mission tasks in order to use features of the automation, and (b) over-reliance on memory to access the correct pages, and format and insert data. This paper describes this analysis with an example, and discusses design guidelines for MCDUs or new graphical displays."
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Cognitive task analysis, flightdeck user-interface, graphical user-interfaces, MCDU, RAFI analysis
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Sherry, L., Polson, P., Feary, M. and Palmer, E. (2002) When Does the MCDU Interface Work Well? Paper presented at the the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Aeronautics, Cambridge, MA (October 22-24).
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Last Updated: August 15, 2019