Primary Flight Display (PFD) Redesign

Statement of Intent

Currently in airplanes the Primary Flight Display (PFD) has the same design it has had for many decades. Although the design of an airplane cockpit has not changed very much, technology and design as a whole has changed dramatically. While studying the incident of the Airbus 447 France crash, it is obvious that the current design is lacking elements which could have possibly been helpful during the flight and possibly saved their lives. 

Summary of Air France 447

In the Air France crash, the flight left from Rio de Janerio, Brazil  on its way to Paris, France. After a couple of hours of flight the plane entered a storm and the pilots found themselves confused. The air tube froze over and they lost any measurement of air speed. They were in a stall warning and struggled to ever figure out what was causing it ot happen. Both of the pilots had their joysticks pulled back at one point and didn’t notice the other did as well. At the end of the flight they thought they were ascending because of the large angle the pitch of the plane. There was a lack of communication between the pilots and the design of the plane was not optimal for the situation. 

To improve the design I have added two joy sticks one for each pilot, they show the position the stick is in when the pilot moves them. The display shows more clearly when the plane is in Autopilot or Alternate Law. I have add an area where warnings and helpful information to help correct issues that arise. I have visualized the pitch and angle of attack (which isn’t on the current display) so it is easy to glance and know if you are safe. I have taken the different parts of the PFD out of compartments and made it more of a free flowing and easier to read design. I have made sure to put components that are related together and show when the plane is properly in a flight envelope. 

Timeline

Example of Current PFD

Photo Credit: Airbus

Sketches

Wireframes

Final Design

Legend

Design in Scenario

Final Thoughts

This project was challenging and really helped me improve my ability dive into the research and understand the details. It taught me the importance of becoming an expert in the subject matter of the project, previous to this project I did not know how airplanes worked technically. From this project I was also able to create an interactive design that was not an app or webpage. Although, this project if done in real life would require a lot more research and revisions I feel like i was able to give my best shot on the project.