Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are controlled remotely via terrestrial or satellite-based radio link rather than by a pilot in the cockpit. The remote nature of the transmission results in latencies (time between pilot input and feedback indicating aircraft response) that are typically longer than those in manned aircraft. Researchers from the FAA Human Factors Branch conducted a simulation to investigate the effect of control latencies during takeoff and landing scenarios in UAS with low levels of automation. We evaluated one of four latencies (180, 494, 750, 1026 ms) in each test scenario. Half of the scenarios included crosswinds. Data obtained from 11 UAS pilots indicated that as latency increased aircraft performance and pilot ratings of aircraft handling were negatively affected (e.g., more deviations from pattern). Overall, control latencies above 494 ms adversely affected pilot and aircraft performance relative to baseline.
Zingale, C. M.,
& Taylor, E. G.
(2015). Effect of Control Latency on Unmanned Aircraft Systems During Critical Phases of Flight. 18th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 183-188.