Send to

Choose Destination
Ergonomics. 2016 Oct;59(10):1344-1352. Epub 2016 Mar 4.

Fighter pilots' heart rate, heart rate variation and performance during instrument approaches.

Author information

a Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Human Systems Integration Group , Coventry University , Coventry , UK.
b Doctrine and Concept Division , Finnish Defence Research Agency , Riihimäki , Finland.
c Finnish Defence Research Agency , Tuusula , Finland.
d Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Cognitive Science, Institute of Behavioral Sciences , University of Helsinki Helsinki , Finland.
e Systems Analysis Laboratory, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis , School of Science, Aalto University , Helsinki , Finland.
f National Defence University , Helsinki , Finland.


Fighter pilots' heart rate (HR), heart rate variation (HRV) and performance during instrument approaches were examined. The subjects were required to fly instrument approaches in a high-fidelity simulator under various levels of task demand. The task demand was manipulated by increasing the load on the subjects by reducing the range at which they commenced the approach. HR and the time domain components of HRV were used as measures of pilot mental workload (PMWL). The findings of this study indicate that HR and HRV are sensitive to varying task demands. HR and HRV were able to distinguish the level of PMWL after which the subjects were no longer able to cope with the increasing task demands and their instrument landing system performance fell to a sub-standard level. The major finding was the HR/HRV's ability to differentiate the sub-standard performance approaches from the high-performance approaches. Practitioner Summary: This paper examined if HR and HRV were sensitive to varying task demands in a fighter aviation environment and if these measures were related to variations in pilot's performance.


heart rate; heart rate variation; performance; pilot mental workload

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center