The sensitivity of Cue utilization when learning to operate a visual line of sight multi-rotor remotely piloted aircraft

Peter F. Renshaw*, Mark W. Wiggins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Cue utilization processes may enable learners to acquire technical skills more readily even during the very early stages of learning a task but there is a paucity of applied experimental evidence as to when cue utilization becomes operative during the initial stages of technical skill acquisition. Civil and military remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) occurrence analyses have indicated that an operator's ability to utilize and integrate a more constrained range of sensory cues compared to conventional aviation has been operative in a significant proportion of accidents. It is important to understand when cue utilization processes emerge to ensure the most effective application of cue-based processing approaches to training and systems design in order to improve operational safety. The objective of the research was to examine the sensitivity of a domain-specific measure of cue utilization during the initial stages of learning to fly a small visual line of sight RPA. A two-phase, six-stage, three-week quasi-longitudinal study was conducted using participants with no prior conventional aviation or RPA operations experience. A series of multiple linear regressions indicated that technical cue utilization became sensitive to performance after 4.1 h exposure to the domain. The findings suggested a relationship between cue utilization and the capacity to acquire complex technical skills during a very early stage of learning. The evaluation of RPA operator cue utilization may assist in developing cue-based training interventions and the design of more intuitive RPA interfaces to help ensure the efficient and effective acquisition of the requisite technical skills for safe operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102953
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • cue utilization
  • remotely piloted aircraft
  • skill acquisition
  • training
  • unmanned aircraft systems


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