The ergonomics of India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas cockpit better suit the Indian Air Force’s tallest pilots, compared to pilots who are of ‘low’ or ‘medium’ height. In other words, the cockpit wasn’t configured and designed with a democratic mix of height permutations. Identified as a problem last year, the LCA’s cockpit ergonomics have been reconfigured — the ‘new’ cockpit will feature for the first time on the fifth limited series production aircraft (LSP-5) that is expected to make its first flight any time now. While specifics are not available yet, the changes include placement/configuration of the HUD, multifunction displays and function selector panels.
Issues with the cockpit ergonomics first figured in conclusions drawn by the Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) after it was instructed late last year to conduct an ergonomic evaluation of twin-seat trainer PV-5 cockpit. According to sources, a digital model of the Tejas cockpit along with various digital human models (DHM) of different height percentiles among IAF pilots were fed into an evaluation program called Jack. The three DHMs were 2.5th percentile, 50th percentile and 97.5th percentile representing the shortest, average and tallest IAF personnel. The eval threw up the fact that the existing cockpit design and man-machine interface was best suited to the third DHM. Changes were recommended through a detailed report along with a fresh digital cockpit model. The new cockpit is ostensibly now optimal for a larger percentile of IAF pilots.