Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Visual interaction and human effectiveness in the cockpit, Part II

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Transport mode
Airborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Human error remains a stubbornly persistent problem in aviation, and is implicated in some 70% of all commercial aviation accidents. Unless measures are taken to bolster aviation safety, predicted air traffic growth is expected to result in an increasing number of aviation-related fatalities and injuries. It is increasingly recognised that the most effective way to address aviation safety is to focus on the human factor in aviation.

New flightdeck technologies, such as advanced avionics systems, can greatly reduce human error, and provide a wealth of dividends in terms of safety, fuel efficiency, operational flexibility, and passenger comfort. Unfortunately, accident and incident data highlight a number of cases in which flightdeck automation was misunderstood and/or misused. Incidents and accidents with modern airliners often occur through co-ordination breakdowns between flight crews and automation. As the capabilities of flightdeck automation have increased over the years, the role of the pilot has changed drastically. More than ever before, the role of the pilot is one of a monitor and manager of automated systems.


VINTHEC II aimed to achieve:

  • Detailed assessment methods including a universal, standardised and validated methodology for objectively assessing shared situational awareness and human interaction in complex aeronautical settings;
  • procedural guidelines for the practical implementation of the objective assessment methodology, including specification of operational scenarios for CRM training and system evaluation purposes;
  • implementation recommendations for applying the assessment methodology to work domains other than the flightdeck, which is believed capable of benefiting systems design and training efforts in any number of other industrial sectors;
  • cognitive engineering recommendations on how to incorporate objective assessment methodology into the system design process;
  • improved aviation safety with a view to a great number of aviation accidents and incidents involving human error as a contributing factor;
  • a particular evaluation of automation which is becoming more competent, and assuming the role of an additional 'crewmember' on the modern flightdeck, underlining the need for techniques to assess shared situational awareness and co-ordination between crewmembers; and
  • better (i.e. cost effective) design processes.


In recent years, maturation of cognitive theories has been paralleled by a revolution in psychophysiological methods that have enabled researchers to non-invasively study various aspects of non-overt human performance. Human effectiveness in modern cockpits is primarily influenced by the amount of visual information and the ways crews scan this information. Eye Point-of-Gaze (EPOG) and other ocular indicators can reveal fundamental aspects of human visual perception, information processing, and ultimately crew effectiveness. The FP4 project VINTHEC I developed an innovative methodology to assess situational awareness (SA) based on EPOG. This methodology was used for the first time in a number of pilot-in-the-loop experiments demonstrating the potential for this type of approach.

VINTHEC II conducted a series of part-task experiments to further develop and validate the methodology. A computer cognitive modelling exercise was performed as a benchmark for the experimental results. The project culminated in a motion-based flight simulator experiment to demonstrate the final methodology.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Research (DG Research)
Type of funding
Public (EU)



  • Performed empirical investigations of shared Situational Awareness (sSA), including the difficulties in measurements that could validate the impact CRM courses actually have on pilot behaviour;
  • identified the need for improvements in the way Eye Point of Gaze (EPOG) data are collected and handled, e.g. in equipment specifications and ergonomic guidelines;
  • identified new and enhanced ways to analyse and visualise EPOG data customised with respect to the critical SA and Crew Resource Management (CRM) skills, adapted for the information needs of end users;
  • developed scenarios of a typical service from Amsterdam to London using a Fokker 100 jet aircraft, and for use in the NLR Research Flight Simulator;
  • tested scenarios, equipment, measurement systems and general procedures in pilot runs using BAE Systems' fixed base simulator;
  • undertaking cognitive modelling with emphasis on Information Processing (IP) and Cognitive Systems Engineering (CSE); and
  • run a full-scale simulator experiment that provided insight into shared Situational Awareness, and served as a 'proof of concept' demonstration of shared SA measurement in an operationally realistic setting.

Policy implications

VINTHEC II explicitly emphasised implementation and transfer of usable results to industry. Although the immediate focus of this implementation would be aviation (systems design and safety training communities and human factors certification), there are clear applications of the VINTHEC II methodology to other domains. This is because the shared Situational Awareness scenario is not unique to civil flightdeck operations. Various domains share fundamental similarities in terms of display, teamwork, human performance, and training issues.


Key Findings
No results directly relevant to this theme. However, please note that some findings relevant to the project's key theme (User Aspects) are generically applicable.

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' /> 

Policy Implications
No policy implications directly relevant to this theme. However, please note that some policy implications relevant to the project's key theme (User Aspects) are generically applicable.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!