M.A.R.T.A. CentreAeronautical Human Factor Laboratory (HFA)

Home Research M.A.R.T.A. Centre – Mediterranean Aeronautics Research & Training Academy Aeronautical Human Factor Laboratory (HFA)

The laboratory

The study of the Human Factor is based on the understanding and correlation of human behaviour as a function of the activities performed.

The Human Factor Aeronautical Laboratory (HFA) houses some teaching and research activities related to the Degree Course in Aerospace Engineering and primarily the flight simulators for research activities on the Human Factor in aeronautics.

In this case, reference is made to the pilot’s operations during the flight phases both individually and in Multi-Crew Co-operation (MCC).

A Full Flight Simulator (FFS) classifiable as EASA level “D” at the laboratory’s disposal, replicating the CESSNA Citation C560 XL aircraft and a static FNPT – MCC II simulator which replicates the EC-135 twin-turbine rotary-wing aircraft.

Both simulators are located within the M.A.R.T.A. Mediterranean Aeronautics Research & Training Academy.

One of the main objectives pursued through the activities carried out is to study the pilot’s aptitude for performing exercises with different workload levels and to analyse his behaviour in terms of performance, workload and situation awareness.

To achieve this, the currently recognised instruments are based on subjective survey techniques used to evaluate pilots during or even at the end of the tests.
Alongside this classic analysis method, biometric and performance data are acquired using sensors as non-invasive, smart and contactless as possible for an objective assessment of the driver’s behaviour.

Both survey methodologies are constantly developed and compared to validate the research and keep it up-to-date with the international context.

Experiments involving human beings are first submitted to the University Ethics Committee for an opinion following the regulations in force.


The HFA laboratory is under the responsibility of Prof. Antonio Esposito, RTDA, in the scientific-disciplinary field ING-IND/03 Flight Mechanics.

In addition to being the head of the laboratory, all the lecturers in the core subjects of the Aerospace Engineering degree course also report to the laboratory.

Professors from the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine are also actively involved in developing the experimental trials.


The research activities carried out at the HFA laboratory range from the characterisation and analysis of cabin crew’s objective and subjective behaviour to that of passengers or ground personnel such as air traffic controllers.

Experiments are carried out on non-invasive and contactless platforms and sensors for real-time monitoring of the human body’s response according to the experienced workload.

In addition to the research activities carried out using flight simulators, the laboratory’s research activities also focus on studying the behaviour of pilots of remotely piloted aircraft.

Although recent technological developments in artificial intelligence and smart mobility are progressing towards increasing the use of autonomously guided aircraft, the currently existing remotely piloted aircraft include the pilot as an active part of the process in the flight management and control loop.

Therefore, human factor monitoring is also an element to be analysed for these aircraft.

Further research activities of the laboratory concern human comfort, both in the aeronautical context and by extension in other areas.

Not only does the research focus on the comfort of vibrations in terms of amplitude and frequency to which the human body is subjected, but the laboratory’s equipment can also be used to analyse the comfort of noise, light intensity and temperature in both real and simulated contexts.

The research results described and carried out in the aeronautical field can be widely used in other contexts related to mobility, medical science and energy saving.


The Full Motion flight simulator at the University of Enna “Kore” reproduces the CESSNA Citation C-560 XL aircraft. As a result, it is characterised by the highest level of fidelity currently required by European EASA regulations.

The simulator was built by the Austrian company Axis Flight Training Systems, which used the US company “RSI Visual Systems” and the Dutch company “E2M Technologies” for the visual system and motion system.

The simulator uses state-of-the-art technology to simplify its operation and drastically reduce the energy consumption of the entire system.

These include an electromechanical motion system capable of handling a payload of up to 14 tonnes and a visual system based on LED projectors for the collimated projection of images.

As far as the cockpit is concerned, the simulator features a glass cockpit layout that faithfully reproduces the CESSNA Citation XL aircraft equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW545B engines.

Therefore, the cockpit is equipped with two lateral EFIS displays and a central multifunctional EFIS display.

All onboard avionics are from Honeywell Primus 1000, while the two Flight Management Systems (FMSs) installed are manufactured by Universal.

The static flight simulator of the University of Enna “Kore” reproduces the EC-135 rotary-wing aircraft and allows training activities in instrument flight conditions on twin-turbine helicopters.

The simulator was built by the Spanish company Entrol – Entrenadores Olarte and belongs to the FNPT – II MCC certification class.

The simulator was equipped with a hardware and software package capable of simulating SAR – Search And Rescue-type missions to study the stress of pilots engaged in special missions.

The simulator cabin features a glass cockpit configuration, while the flight systems include a 3-axis autopilot, 1 flight management system and weather radar.

The onboard avionics also allow VOR, ILS and NDB navigation aids useful for the following types of training:

These are complemented by courses in Human Factors and Pilots Decision-Making:
CRM (Crew Resource Management), TEM (Threat and Error Management), EC-135 Cockpit Familiarization, LOFT (Line Oriented Flight Training), Systems Training, Initial Pilot Evaluation, Normal & Emergency Procedures Refreshment.

The instructor station – IOS has two 24″ touch screen monitors and a third monitor for operating the winch during SAR missions.

  • Wearable ECG sensors from several commercial brands.
  • Wearable EDA sensors.
  • Non-contact temperature measurement for R&D.
  • Accelerometers for human body research activity.
  • Inertial Measurement Unit sensor for Human Activity Recognition problems, Tracking and Navigation problems.

Research products and publications

  • Alaimo A., ESPOSITO A., Faraci P, Orlando C. and Valenti G.D. (2022)
    “Human heart-related indexes behavior study for aircraft pilots allowable workload level assessment,” in IEEE Access, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3145043.
  • Alaimo, Andrea, ESPOSITO, Antonio, Orlando, Calogero, Simoncini, Andre (2020).
    Aircraft Pilots Workload Analysis: Heart Rate Variability Objective Measures and NASA-Task Load Index Subjective Evaluation.
    AEROSPACE, vol. 7, ISSN: 2226-4310, doi: 10.3390/aerospace7090137.
  • Alaimo, A., ESPOSITO, A., Orlando, C., and Tesoriere, G. (2018).
    A Pilot Mental Workload Case Study in a Full Flight Simulator.
    Aerotechnics Missiles and Space, vol. 97, p. 27-33, ISSN: 0365-7442, doi: 10.1007/BF03404762.
  • ESPOSITO A., Valenti G.D., Balducci F., Buono P. (2021).
    Supporting Sensor-Based Usability Studies Using a Mobile App in Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.
    Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), vol.
    12936, p. 63-72, ISBN:978-3-030-85606-9, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-85607-6_4.
  • Alaimo, Andrea, ESPOSITO, Antonio, Milazzo, Alberto, Orlando, Calogero (2021).
    An Aircraft Pilot Workload Sensing System.
    In: European Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring.
    Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering, vol. 127, p. 883-892, ISBN:978-3-030-64593-9, ISSN: 2366-2557, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-64594-6_85.
  • A Alaimo, A ESPOSITO and C Orlando (2021).
    Pilot’s mental workload nonlinear correlation among objective and subjective measurements.
    Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 1786, doi: 10.1088/1742-6596/1786/1/012011.
  • Francesco Lo Iacono, Andrea Alaimo, Antonio ESPOSITO, Giacomo Navarra, Calogero Orlando (2020).
    An Anthropometric 4-DOF Vibration Model with Uncertain Parameters for Air Transportation.
    In: AIP Conference Proceedings. vol. 2293, American Institute of Physics Inc., ISBN: 978-073544025-8, Rhodos, Greece, 23-28 September 2019, doi:10.1063/5.0027753.
  • Alaimo, A., ESPOSITO, A., & Orlando, C. (2018, September).
    Cockpit Pilot Warning System: A Preliminary Study.
    In 2018 IEEE 4th International Forum on Research and Technology for Society and Industry (RTSI) (p. 1-4).
    ISBN: 978-1-5386-6282-3, doi:10.1109/RTSI.2018.8548518.


The laboratory offers external services

i) in the field of consultancy for the analysis and development of models for workload assessment;

ii) analysis of biometric data acquired in operational contexts primarily related to aviation;

iii) analysis of comfort in the working environment; iv) modelling and analysis of the behaviour of the human body subject to phenomena such as motion sickness and whole body vibration.

Contacts and where we are

Free Kore University of Enna Cittadella Universitaria – 94100 Enna

Requests for partnership, collaboration and consultancy services can be addressed to the laboratory manager: Prof. Antonio Esposito

Phone (+39) 3337927163 / E-mail: antonio.esposito@unikore.it