Performance, Characteristics, and Error Rates of Cursor Control Devices for Aircraft Cockpit Interaction

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This paper provides a comparative performance analysis of a hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) cursor control device (CCD) with other suitable CCDs for an aircraft cockpit: an isotonic thumbstick, a trackpad, a trackball, and touchscreen input. The performance and characteristics of these five CCDs were investigated in terms of throughput, movement accuracy, and error rate using the ISO 9241-9 standard task. Results show statistically significant differences (p < 0.001) between three groupings of the devices, with the HOTAS having the lowest throughput (0.7 bits/s) and the touchscreen the highest (3.7 bits/s). Errors for all devices were shown to increase with decreasing target size (p < 0.001) and, to a lesser effect, increasing target distance (p < 0.01). The trackpad was found to be the most accurate of the five devices, being significantly better than the HOTAS fingerstick and touchscreen (p < 0.05) with the touchscreen performing poorly on selecting smaller targets (p < 0.05). These results would be useful to cockpit human-machine interface designers and provides evidence of the need to move away from, or significantly augment the capabilities of, this type of HOTAS CCD in order to improve pilot task throughput in increasingly data-rich cockpits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-53
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Early online date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Cursor control devices
  • Error rates
  • Human-machine interface
  • Throughput


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