Touch-screen Controllers Error-proof, User-friendly

Touch-screen user interfaces can be touchy technology.

Inadvertent inputs are common, as any smartphone user can attest. Especially when trying to interact with the device while moving, be it on foot, in an automobile—or on board an aircraft.

Gulfstream designed the touch-screen controllers in the new Symmetry Flight DeckTM to be both error-proof and user-friendly. Pilots flying the G500 or G600 need to apply 3 ounces of force for at least a sixth of a second to register a command on the screens. This forces the pilot to be deliberate, but not slow, with their interaction. Furthermore, the system requires them to confirm with a second touch any input that represents a critical function, a safety measure similar to the covers pilots must lift up to access mechanical switches in other flight decks.

The deliberate interactions with the controllers have proven to nearly eliminate errors, says Scott Martin, a Gulfstream experimental test pilot involved in the controllers’ development.

The development team also recognized the need for hand stabilization, which is why each screen is mounted on a square base or plinth. Pilots can wrap their hand around the back of the device and use their thumb or index finger to make accurate inputs.

Martin and his fellow pilots tested the utility of the screens by riding down a bumpy desert road in the back of a van.

“The way the controllers are designed, once you stabilize your hand, the screen is a part of your hand,” Martin says. “It’s really user-friendly.”