Aviation Human-in-the-Loop Simulation Studies: Experimental Planning, Design, and Data Management.
DOT/FAA/AM-14/1. Williams, K.; Christopher, B.; Drechsler, G. et al. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Aerospace Medicine. 80 pp. Appendixes, figures, photos, tables.
This report describes “human-in-the-loop” flight simulations as part of a task and workload-management study involving single pilots of very light jets. Information gathered through the study also will be used as baseline data in upcoming studies related to development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, known as NextGen.
The study was conducted in a Cessna Citation Mustang flight training device and with data collection methods that included voice analysis; instantaneous self-assessment of perceived workload; U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tools for measuring workload; and questionnaires involving cockpit set-up preferences, demographics and automation experiences.
“Researchers have a need to measure the workload of the pilot during the flight because automation and advanced technology can provide a great benefit to pilots in terms of reducing some types of workload and making increased situation awareness possible, particularly when flying single-pilot operations,” said the report on the study, conducted by researchers from the NASA Ames Flight Cognition Lab and the FAA Aerospace Human Factors Research Lab at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.
“Guidance is needed so designers can reduce the cognitive complexity of these systems, to minimize the likelihood of human error and to better support pilots managing the workload and resources of advanced automation.”
The report focused on the researchers’ discussion of how they designed their human-in-the-loop simulation study and the methods used to collect and analyze the results. An earlier report discussed the observations recorded during the simulator study, which the authors said produced baseline data that will be used in future NextGen research (ASW, 11/13).
In this report, the researchers said that they chose to use the instantaneous self-assessment device to allow for a measurement of the workload “at any pre-determined point during the flight, and post-hoc workload measures can be administered as required.”
Although use of the device “has the possibility of making the flight seem less real, actually adding to the workload being measured and potentially interrupting other tasks,” they nevertheless wanted to gather pilots’ observations while they were still fresh. Waiting until after the flight, they said, could mean that pilots’ memories of the experience would become inaccurate.
“Achieving the necessary balance between gathering the most useful data and maintaining the fidelity of the simulation requires careful planning and execution of the study,” the report said. “There are numerous background materials that must be developed and multiple data sources that must be considered.”
Overall, the report said, human-in-the-loop flight simulation studies can collect “literally, thousands of variables, many times a second over the duration of a flight that could last several hours.” The amount of time spent planning, analyzing and reporting study details can far outstrip the time spent actually conducting the study, the report said.
“When pilots perform flights in the real world, they do not simply show up at the airport, jump in the plane, start the engine and take off,” the report added. “There are many steps involved in planning and executing the flight. The safety of the flight depends critically on the performance of these steps. When conducting a flight simulation study, one intention of the researcher is to make the flight experience as realistic as possible so that the performance and decision-making activities of pilots match what would be found if they were flying an actual aircraft.”
2012 Aerospace Medical Certification Statistical Handbook
DOT/FAA/AM-13/25. Skaggs, V.J.; Norris, A.I. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Aerospace Medicine. December 2013. 42 pp. Figures, tables.
This is the most recent of the FAA’s annual statistical handbooks of aerospace medical certification data — a compilation of “the most recent and most widely relevant” data collected about active pilots and aviation medical examiners (AMEs).
The handbook’s data on FAA-certificated pilots were derived from the FAA’s medical certification records from 2007 through 2012; medical data were taken from the most recent medical examinations, and only pilots with current medical certificates were included in the data set.
Data on AMEs were selected from the Aviation Medical Examiner Information System.
The handbook shows, in a series of figures and tables, each certificated pilot’s age, date of issuance of medical certificate, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), gender, selected medical conditions, special issuances and FAA region of residence.
The findings, as of Dec. 31, 2012:
- Some 581,850 pilots, all at least 16 years of age, held FAA medical certificates — 32.7 percent had Class 1 certificates, 21.6 percent had Class 2 certificates, and 45.7 percent had Class 3 certificates;
- Seven percent of certificates required a special issuance;
- The most common medical condition was “hypertension with medication,” reported by 11.3 percent;
- The average age of these pilots was 42.9 years, 93.5 percent were men;
- The mean BMI for male certificate-holders was 27.2, and the mean female BMI was 24.1.
The handbook also includes data on 3,427 active AMEs, about half of whom were family practitioners. Nearly 90 percent were men, their average age was 60.2 years, and 52.6 percent did not themselves have a pilot’s license.
FAA Made Limited Progress in Implementing NextGen Provisions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
AV-2014-027. U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG). Jan. 28, 2014. 19 pp. Appendix, exhibits.
This audit report, an examination of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) progress in implementing portions of a 2012 law dealing with the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), finds that the FAA has yet to implement key provisions of the law intended to accelerate NextGen technologies.
The report said that the FAA has implemented, or is on target to implement, 11 of 24 provisions of the law that were singled out by the OIG, including completion of the multi-agency NextGen Integrated Work Plan. In other areas, however, progress has been slow, according to the report, requested by the aviation subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Two areas were singled out by the OIG.
First, the report said that the FAA has not initiated “rulemaking activities requiring use of the [automatic] dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) In system for enhanced satellite-based air traffic surveillance.” The ADS-B In system shows pilots information being transmitted by ADS-B ground stations and other aircraft.
In addition, the agency “has not established a public-private incentive program for installing NextGen avionics equipment on aircraft,” the report said.
The report added that the FAA also has failed to meet a number of deadlines for submitting reports and plans involved in NextGen implementation.
The FAA’s problems in meeting the law’s requirements can be attributed in part to programmatic and organizational challenges, the report said.
“According to FAA officials, the act’s provisions are difficult to execute, as they require coordination among multiple programs, resolution of complex technical and operational issues and collaboration with industry stakeholders,” the report said. “For example, FAA’s delays with issuing guidelines and regulations for ADS-B In are due, in part, to the need to finalize requirements for displaying traffic information in aircraft cockpits, modify the systems that controllers rely on to manage traffic, develop and deploy new procedures for separating aircraft using satellite-based technology, and assess potential system security vulnerabilities. As a result, FAA will not likely be ready to mandate the use of the technology by 2020, as required by the act.”
The OIG repeated its conclusion, outlined in a 2012 report, that users have been “concerned” about equipping their aircraft with ADS-B avionics “because FAA has not clearly defined what benefits will be achieved and when.”
The report included recommendations calling on the FAA to develop a process for delivering regular updates on its progress in meeting the law’s NextGen requirements and to communicate its plans to Congress and other NextGen stakeholders.
In the FAA’s response, included in the report, the agency agreed with both recommendations and noted that it has used multiple processes to share information on NextGen progress.