By empowering the pilot to utilize his/her skills more effectively, identifying how to create conditions that increase the likelihood of success, and developing guidelines to train fundamental skills to deal with unexpected events, Man4Gen will directly impact the reduction of fatal accidents such as those caused by Loss of Control In-Flight (LOC-I).
The project will identify current deficiencies of situational awareness and manual control of modern flight decks, and impact the design of procedures, training and cockpit design in the aerospace industry. Procedures will be developed to help the pilot identify not only the fault, but where the airplane is with respect to its operational envelope and limits.
Improving pilot crew response to unexpected and challenging situations
Despite the safety benefits of automation technology, complications arise when a challenging situation forces pilots to quickly change from automatic flight to manual control of the aircraft. An EU initiative is addressing flight crew response to unexpected events in order to improve airline safety.
Lacking or inadequate situational awareness (SA) has led to a recent increase in aviation incidents and accidents. There is a need to better understand how crews react to unexpected stressful situations, and how they can perform optimally under such demanding circumstances.
Thanks to EU-funding, the 'Manual operation for 4th generation airliners' (http://www.man4gen.eu (MAN4GEN)) project is contributing to enhanced training, flight operations methods and systems design.
Project partners began by researching and analysing current studies on the manual operation of modern aircraft in order to identify problem areas. The emphasis was placed on the ability of flight crew to handle unexpected events in a 4th generation airliner.
The team then performed experiments to examine flight crew reactions to unexpected and challenging conditions that may contribute to the loss of control and SA. The experiments took place in research flight simulators where the conditions could be replicated accurately, and in a fMRI setting to gain deeper understanding of the decision making processes of pilots.
Researchers concluded that improvements needed to take place in procedures, training and technology after the experiments revealed several flaws in existing operations.
A series of recommendations were developed based on the three areas that were most in need of improvement. The recommendations focused on mitigation strategies and techniques to better manage unusual situations, training to prepare pilots for keeping or regaining control during unexpected events, and cockpit modifications to increase SA.
MAN4GEN outcomes will provide the aviation industry with solutions to minimise human error during the manual operation of an aircraft. The project intends to upgrade the human capability to stay up to date on technology and keep flying safe regardless of the situation.