Tactile transformation in flying airplanes: from hands-on to fingers-on aviation

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Portable laptops, cell phones, touchscreen equipment and other mobile devices are changing the way commercial airplane pilots are handling information used for flying aircraft. Pilot expertise and skill are being transformed by a new approach in which fingertips are replacing traditional hands-on methods of controlling airplanes. Drawing on participatory and interview methods at a UK airbase, this article draws on ethnographic research with commercial pilots and pilot cadets, to trace the refashioning of cell phone media in an aviation context where touch-based computer screens replace traditional airplane technology. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, this article examines how the knowing, sensing and intuition through the hands allows for a particular sort of la prise (grip) which accustoms itself to the emergence of new tactile and human–computer interfaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Media and Society
Early online date2 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2024

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