Single-Pilot Workload Management in Entry-Level Jets
DOT/FAA/AM-13/17. Burian, B.K.; Pruchnicki, S.; Rogers, J. et al. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Aerospace Medicine. September 2013. 127 pp. Appendixes, figures, tables.
This report chronicles a study that examined task and workload management by 14 pilots of entry level jets (also known as very light jets) to evaluate pilot errors during high-workload events.
The researchers — from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Flight Cognition Lab and the FAA Flight Deck Human Factors Research Laboratory at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute — observed the pilots as they conducted an experimental flight in a Cessna Citation Mustang flight training device.
Eight pilots owned and operated Mustangs, and the other six were professional pilots who flew Mustangs on the job.
The experimental flight consisted of two legs flown under instrument flight rules and with high workload management. The goal was to determine how the pilots managed their workload, what types of problems they encountered and why, what workload management techniques could be characterized as best practices, and how the pilots benefit from, or experience problems associated with, automation and advanced technologies.
The study also was designed to produce baseline data for use in future studies involving the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
“To facilitate analysis,” the report said, “the major high-workload tasks during the cruise portion of flight were grouped into four events. Approximately two-thirds of the tasks within the four events were accomplished by the participants with no difficulties. Though all participants committed a variety of errors during all four high-workload events (e.g., readback error, airspeed violation), most errors were not directly related to overall task success.”
Nevertheless, the report said that, in the first event — “setting up the automation to intercept the 208-degree Broadway radial following the completion of the departure procedure out of Teterboro [New Jersey, U.S.] in leg one” — the researchers discovered “a significant effect on task performance success related to hours of experience.”
The research also revealed that, for pilots who had difficulty with the tasks, “some type of error” involving their use of Garmin G1000 avionics was to blame. “Consistent with that finding is the result that half or more of the participants were unsuccessful or had problems accomplishing the three major tasks that involved the greatest amount of programming,” the report said.
The report noted that, because of the low number of participating pilots, the “statistical power” of the exploratory study was limited, and the findings could not be generalized to apply to pilots other than those who participated.
The report suggested several related topics for future research, including determining the “optimal balance between time spent monitoring automation and time spent focusing on other tasks” and examining whether “pilot automation use and errors committed [are] associated with frequency of use or the use of different avionics systems in other aircraft.”
The report included several recommendations for workload management and the use of automation, including:
- “To the extent that it is feasible, pilots should consider completing short, easily performed tasks associated with ATC [air traffic control] clearances quickly, such as dialing in a new heading while listening to the rest of the ATC clearance;
- “Pilots should be prepared to copy (in writing) or audio-record an ATC clearance involving a reroute or hold and not try to rely upon their memory;
- “Pilots should complete as many tasks as possible early during periods of low workload. Research is needed to evaluate the cost-benefit tradeoffs of pilots programming an expected, but not confirmed, instrument approach while still at cruise;
- “During periods of automation mode changes (e.g., level off at top of climb), pilots should briefly refrain from other tasks and monitor the automation and aircraft behavior to make sure the aircraft performs the action as intended; [and,]
- “When deferring a task until a later time, we suggest that pilots take a moment and form an explicit intention about completing the task and when. For example, say to yourself, ‘Report to ATC when I level out at cruise.’ External memory aids or cues, such as placing an incomplete checklist between the throttle levers or on your lap, can also assist with recalling the need to perform deferred actions.”
FAA’s Controller Scheduling Practices Can Impact Human Fatigue, Controller Performance, and Agency Costs
U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG). Report no. AV-2013-120. Aug. 27, 2013. 29 pp. Appendixes, figures.
This examination of the FAA’s air traffic controller scheduling practices — prompted by several reports in 2011 of controllers who fell asleep during overnight shifts — found that controllers’ work schedules sometimes do not comply with FAA scheduling policies.
The goals of the OIG audit were to determine how scheduling practices affect safety and air traffic controller performance, as well as to assess the cost effectiveness of the scheduling practices and determine how well air traffic control facilities comply with FAA scheduling policies.
The OIG’s review was based on an examination of a sample of 32,814 shifts for 403 controllers at 20 facilities over a 16-week period.
“We found 279 cases where controllers did not have the required nine hours of off-duty time between an evening shift and the following day shift,” the report said. “We also found another 102 cases where controllers did not have the minimum required eight hours off between all shifts.”
Most of the violations, however, involved periods of less than 15 minutes, the report said.
After the 2011 reports, the FAA took steps to mitigate the impacts of fatigue by revising its scheduling policies to require longer rest periods between shifts, instituting a fatigue risk management system, increasing the number of controllers on midnight shifts and providing breaks during overnight shifts to help reduce fatigue risks.
Facility managers have questioned the effectiveness of these actions, and the FAA lacks the metrics to measure their success, the report said. However, continuing fatigue research may result in additional changes in scheduling practices, the document added.
The report included FAA’s response to the report, which noted that in recent years, the agency has tried to ensure the controllers have the correct amount of time off between shifts. Automated reports allow managers to monitor controllers’ time off, and new software provides alerts to controllers if they try to sign in to work before completing the minimum required off-duty period.
The FAA agreed with the report’s four recommendations, which included identifying all terminal air traffic facilities “that do not meet the established minimum criteria for midnight shift operations” and considering reducing their hours of operations.
The FAA said it has identified 72 air traffic control facilities that do not meet the criteria because they average fewer than four operations per hour for at least four consecutive hours. The FAA is reviewing the studies, and decisions will be made early in 2014 on whether to adjust the facilities’ operating hours.
This five-minute video, released by the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is part of a safety-awareness campaign by the two authorities.
The video identifies specific maintenance risks, such as dust accumulation and faulty electrical wiring, that may result in fires aboard aircraft, and discusses “the importance of accurately following aircraft maintenance procedures and also ensuring that electrical wiring is not damaged or contaminated with grease or foreign debris,” the CAA said.
The CAA considers fire one of the “significant seven” safety risks in commercial aviation and says it is especially concerned about “the threat of fire breaking out in hidden areas of the aircraft, which cabin crew are unable to access and bring under control.”
A DVD version of this video may be obtained by emailing <email@example.com>.