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Applying Pilot Models for Safer Aircraft

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The Background

The improvement of aircraft safety is one of the fundamental goals which must be addressed to cope with the expected increase in air transportation for the future. However, still today, most would agree that between 60-80% of aviation accidents are, at least in part, due to human error.

Currently, cockpits are highly automated systems; the task of pilot crews has changed over the years from a manual control to a mostly supervisory control task. Even though, automated cockpit is not functioning in a way, that pilot crews consider it a team player.

On the contrary, automation should be seen as a partner with the human crew in the global endeavor of flying the aircraft; they should form a team that at all time flies the aircraft safely to achieve its current objectives.

The Objectives

In order to provide means of improvement to the safety of flight, especially in times of continuously increasing performance levels, automation and information provision to the flight deck, A-PiMod will work on two fronts:

  • ADAPTIVE AUTOMATION concept: various pilot and crew models, including a cognitive model, will be integrated into the flight automation system to determine what the crew is doing, understand the cognitive state of the pilots and adapt its level of automation in accordance;
  • ADAPTIVE MULTIMODAL COCKPIT concept: it will be developed how a multimodal crew-machine automation interface can contribute to improve adaptive automation. The multimodal interface will allow multiple possible input devices to feed data into the automation system, and at the same time allow the automation system to bring information to the pilot in the most effective way.

The A-PiMod project will be evaluated around whether during a flight the crew and/or the automation system must take action to guarantee that the overall human-automation system remains within a safe state thanks to real-time risk assessment and the real-time crew model.

The A-PiMod approach and the project results will contribute to improved human centered design of future aircraft cockpits.

An A-PiMod training tool will be developed for combining real-time information on the mental/cognitive capability of flight crew during training together with traditional data used in simulation training and integrate them, as a spin-off of the A-PiMod approach.

The research leading to A-PiMod results has received funding from the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under contract number: 605141 Project A-PiMod. The A-PiMod Project started on 1st September 2013 and it is a three year project.