Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

James Gaska (Committee Member), Joe Houpt (Committee Member), Allen Nagy (Advisor), Scott Watamaniuk (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


With the introduction of the next generation of aerial refueling tankers, such as the KC-46, boom operators will use relatively recently developed indirect view stereo displays in place of direct view crew stations. Existing vision standards for boom operators were developed during the 1950s and may not be adequate for medical screening for KC-46 boom operators. Mild anomalies in binocular alignment, currently allowed by USAF vision standards, may permit stereopsis, but may also predispose those individuals to visual complaints such as eye-strain or headaches when viewing stereoscopic displays.

The purpose of this research was to measure individual differences in performance with the use of a simulated remote vision system (RVS) during a simulated aerial refueling task; and to evaluate the relationship between individual differences in refueling performance and individual measures of quality of vision. To accomplish this research, a simulated RVS aerial refueling crew station was developed based on specifications provided by the USAF KC-46 Program Office and The Boeing Company. Experiment 1 was designed to simulate a "fighter drag" operational scenario where a boom operator repeatedly refuels receiver aircraft. Twenty-seven participants with varying quality of vision were recruited for Experiment 1. Each participant's vision was tested using the existing USAF test battery and a battery of newly-developed computer-based vision tests. In Experiment 2, the same RVS simulation was used to evaluate the overall effect of stereo viewing condition on refueling performance (2D, normal stereo, and hyper-stereo).

The results of Experiment 1 reveal that refueling performance and level of discomfort are clearly dependent on quality of vision. Although most participants were generally comfortable using the simulated RVS, a few participants reported high levels of discomfort. Two vision tests were highly correlated with aerial refueling performance: minimum contrast sensitivity and fusion range. For young observers, minimum contrast sensitivity was also highly correlated with reported discomfort. Most of the standard USAF vision tests were not correlated with either RVS refueling performance or reported discomfort. However, vertical phoria was significantly correlated with both performance and comfort. The results of Experiment 2 reveal that the introduction of stereo and hyper-stereo improved RVS refueling performance.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded