Some of the Findings from the Research Project

  • There are 81 combinations of EC devices  possible giving a 50% average chance of detection (1sd = 30%) at best.
  • Pilots estimated that they had 60% chance of detecting traffic and a 70% of being detected thereby overestimating the capability of their equipment.

  • 43% of pilots experienced an emotional reaction to seeing an undetected aircraft (unconscious expectation of full coverage).

  • Pilots' understanding of EC was variable.

  • Many comments suggested a  ‘reliance’/false sense of security when using EC.  Even though pilots knew that the chance of detection was less than 100%, there was nevertheless an unconscious expectation of full coverage which gave rise to:

    •  Negative emotion (anger at others perceived not to be using EC, anxiety with EC)
    •  Examples were seen of EC usage extending beyond the intention of the manufacturers.
  • The use of EC devices could lead to distractions (operational, lookout, device-centric, finding distant target, etc). 

  • Major Points from the Report

  1. Non-compatibility is MAJOR issue which fuels many HF points (trust, decoy, confirmation issues, etc

  2. The use of EC devices Impacted on lookout (reliance, fixation, head-down, etc)

  3. Hardest to use EC devices in the most important phases of flight where the risk of a mid air collision was  at its highest, e.g. within ATZs.  Examples of this   were:
    •  Signal/noise (nuisance alerts)
    •  Overwhelming the attention e.g. in the circuit (some pilots switch it off)

  4. Examples of changed pilot behaviour/decision-making were noted when the devices were used in a tactical and strategic sense rather than simply as alerting devices.


EC-cued search is extremely enticing but it can funnel pilot attention, effort, and distract from wider look out.  However, it is a valuable aid to situational awareness and can detect other aircraft when the pilot is unable to do so.  With the current sate of interoperability, EC should be viewed as a means of enhancing see and avoid rather than replacing it.  Six pieces of HF advice were identified and published in video format which can be viewed here.