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FP7

ACROSS Report Summary

Project ID: 314501
Funded under: FP7-TRANSPORT
Country: France

Final Report Summary - ACROSS (Advanced Cockpit for Reduction Of StreSs and workload)

Executive Summary:
The predicted overall growth of air traffic and the strong demand for airlines efficiency will increase the occurrence of peak workload events, i.e. when pilots’ attention and actions will be required at the highest level, especially during the approach, landing, turn-around and take off phases.
A large percentage of recent accidents can be linked to human factor issues. Inadequate situation awareness as well as deviations from standard crew coordination procedures have been important contributing factors in some of the key mishaps in recent years. As accidents are more likely to occur when workload in the cockpit is high, improving crew performance in peak workload conditions is thus critical to enhance safety.
ACROSS is a European project performed in the frame of the EU 7th Framework Programme. It started in January 2013 and finished in June 2016.
ACROSS worked on three objectives, all driven by an integrated research approach leading to the improvement of safety levels of daily flight operations, increasing at the same time the efficiency of air transport networks:
1. To develop, integrate and test new flight deck solutions facilitating the management of the peak workload situations that can occur during a flight, reducing stress for pilots and thus improving safety.
2. To develop, integrate and test new cockpit-based technologies allowing a reduced crew to operate safely in a limited number of well-defined conditions.
3. Taking into account initial learning about evaluations done on workload reduction and reduced crew operations, to identify where possible some open issues for the implementation of single-pilot operations in the future, reducing operation costs while maintaining high-level safety standards.
Project Context and Objectives:
The predicted overall growth of air traffic and the strong demand for airlines efficiency will increase the occurrence of peak workload events, i.e. when pilots’ attention and actions will be required at the highest level, especially during the approach, landing, turn-around and take off phases.
A large percentage of recent accidents can be linked to human factor issues. Inadequate situation awareness as well as deviations from standard crew coordination procedures have been important contributing factors in some of the key mishaps in recent years. As accidents are more likely to occur when workload in the cockpit is high, improving crew performance in peak workload conditions is thus critical to enhance safety.

ACROSS worked on three objectives, all driven by an integrated research approach leading to the improvement of safety levels of daily flight operations, increasing at the same time the efficiency of air transport networks:
1. Develop, integrate and test new flight deck solutions facilitating the management of the peak workload situations that can occur during a flight, to reduce stress for pilots and thus improve safety.
2. Develop, integrate and test new cockpit-based technologies to allow a reduced crew to operate safely in a limited number of well-defined conditions.
3. Taking into account initial learning about evaluations done on workload reduction and reduced crew operations, ACROSS will identify where possible some open issues for the implementation of single-pilot operations in the future, reducing operation costs while maintaining high-level safety standards.

OBJECTIVE 1 - NEW COCKPIT SOLUTIONS FOR PEAK WORKLOAD SITUATIONS
Improving and assuring safe operations under crew peak workload is a key goal for air safety.
Today, pilots routinely fly in increasingly demanding conditions. Although operational technology has advanced to the point where some flight phases of modern aircraft are highly automated, requiring relatively little input from the crew, the workload level may rise to the point where, even within the two-pilot crew configuration, the flight crew comes under stress.
The current level of automation and state-of-the-art operational equipment, in the context of existing and future operational environments, could be improved further to provide the flight crew with the support required to achieve the acceptable level of safety under crew peak workload conditions.
The ACROSS project contributed to a cockpit environment that mitigates the impact of crew workload peaks in the flight deck and ensures that pilots have the opportunity to address all relevant issues in a timely and effective manner.

OBJECTIVE 2 - NEW COCKPIT SOLUTIONS FOR REDUCED CREW OPERATIONS
Different situations were addressed:
• Intentionally reduced crew in long haul flight, for a limited period of time during cruise;
• Partial flight crew incapacitation;
• Full flight crew incapacitation.
Although they are rare, cases of incapacitation among commercial pilots up to and including death have been recorded. Less dramatically, the operational capability of one pilot may be compromised as a result of physical illness or psychological issues. It is therefore necessary for the remaining pilot(s) to manage the situation, likely under significant stress.
ACROSS developed and integrated new cockpit-based technologies that allow to safely manage the flight in the 3 situations addressed.

OBJECTIVE 3 - IDENTIFYING OPEN ISSUES FOR POSSIBLE SINGLE-PILOT OPERATIONS
Single-pilot operations in all conditions are considered a long-term possible evolution option that is not in the scope of ACROSS research & technology developments.
The ACROSS consortium considers single-pilot operations as a case study that stimulates innovation and facilitates the identification of solutions that could be used to improve the current safety level in situations of peak workload and reduced crew.

Project Results:
Started on January 2013 and ended in June 2016, ACROSS achieved all of its project objectives.
The consortium developed prototypes of ACROSS solutions and captured operational feedback from professional crews and human factors experts using representative evaluation demonstrators.
The project developed numerous novel aircraft flight automation and crew assistance solutions, including automatic recovery and envelope protection functions, and enhanced crew interfaces & HMI, allowing reducing safely the amount of crew actions and thus peak workload & stress levels by providing a degree of automatic response to unplanned events.
The innovative navigation and mission management solutions developed in ACROSS simplify crew tasks during peak workload situations and allow conducting the flight plan with a reduced crew, by detecting threats along the flight plan, avoiding them by adapting the flight plan, and assisting remaining flight crew in conducting all relevant navigation and mission management tasks providing higher or adapted level of assistance upon request of the remaining crew.
The future Radio Management Panel simplifies the air-ground communication management and provides situational awareness to the cockpit crew regarding the communication system status, including current and expected future changes in the ATM procedures, communication link availability, and also voice frequency changes, thus reducing the crew peak workload through reducing the risk of loss of ATC communication.
The innovative ACROSS system management solutions, such as the minimized Overhead Panel, the touch Interface Control Panel and the integrated System Monitoring and Control, ease normal system management tasks and allow to partially absorb peak workload in abnormal system management. They also improve situational awareness by providing more meaningful context.
The Crew Monitoring System uses different types of sensors to monitor in real time signs of possible pilot impairments such as hypoxia, drowsiness or excessive workload. It contributes to increasing the overall flight safety by improving the situational awareness, providing the crew with insight into their available cognitive resources in real time and enabling crew and system initiated support for vigilance and workload mitigation strategies.
The Emergency Aircraft Control System recovers the aircraft when both pilots become incapacitated, guides it to the nearest suitable airport and lands automatically, performing the conventional automated functions as well as the manual functions of a pilot today. The system consists of an Electronic Stand-by Pilot on board that takes over control of the aircraft in case of total pilot incapacitation and autonomously lands the airplane, and of a Ground Station that provides strategic support to the airborne system.
The novel Aircraft Centred Supervision System is a concept that combines information from the aircraft, the environment and operational restrictions to help the pilot in the decision making process. The system assesses the global operational situation of the aircraft, including relevant (sub-)systems and crew resource status, during all flight phases, at a high level of automation, especially in failure situations with a degraded aircraft status. It presents the status of the aircraft and proposes reconfigurations at a high level of resilience, either fully or semi automatically, by recommending the needed reconfiguration to the flight crew.

Potential Impact:
ACROSS provided useful tools, technologies and guidelines:
• A set of technology solutions for crew monitoring;
• A set of new avionics functions with the demonstration of global performance improvement for each crew task, (Aviate, Navigate, Communicate and Manage systems) specifically during peak workload situations;
• A supplementary step in the technical capability for continued safe flight and landing in case of crew incapacitation;
• Recommendations for the management of reduced crew operations, training aspects and evolutions on functions developed;

Benefits expected from ACROSS are as follows:

ALLEVIATE CREW PEAK WORKLOAD
The main benefit will be increased overall safety in air transport. The proper handling of critical situations and the possible avoidance of some future incidents and accidents clearly represent very desirable outcomes for the Air Transport community.
The ACROSS systems will also reinforce the image of a very safe mode of transport currently and one that is being improved continuously.
Some of the ACROSS innovations may have more immediate applied value than others: for example crew monitoring could be a valuable addition to current aircraft and training simulators.
For all partners, the ACROSS innovations and generated Intellectual Property Rights will prepare future generations of products and support European competitiveness in the aviation global market.

REDUCED CREW
Reduced crew operations limited to specific cases will reduce the exploitation costs of airlines, giving them a degree of competitive advantage that will ultimately benefit the passengers. In this way, ACROSS will contribute to the ACARE “affordable air transport system”.
For European airframers and their supply chain, ACROSS implementation will generate competitive advantage in allowing them to supply aircraft with lower operating costs, both in the air transport and business jet segments.

SINGLE PILOT OPERATIONS
A potential future application of single pilot operation would obviously maximise the benefits drawn from reduced crew operations for airlines and aircraft suppliers.
The project partners are fully aware that this subject is a very sensitive one. ACROSS will address the associated subjects for future research with that delicate aspect fully in mind.
While highly controversial, the topic must be addressed in the most complete way before national and European policy is defined.
The results consolidated by ACROSS, the evaluations by pilots, airframers, skilled certification specialists and human factors experts will feed the unavoidable discussions with facts and first assessments.

OTHER ACROSS IMPACTS
The quality and diversity of the ACROSS consortium also generated potential positive impact for partners:
- Airframers and equipment manufacturers will benefit in the long run of the innovation and Intellectual Property gains, new functionalities, certification and human factors head start. This will prepare the ground for more competitive products for the European industry at large.
- Common work and shared Intellectual Property between SMEs and established stakeholders will foster future work and business relationships between partners, with higher integration at European level, and new commercial opportunities for new players.
- Some of the ACROSS results may translate into immediate possibilities for existing aircraft or support systems. For example, a crew monitoring application, even without the other ACROSS systems, could increase safety onboard current aircraft by helping pilots assess their fatigue/workload/stress level and take appropriate actions.

List of Websites:
http://www.across-fp7.eu

Related information

Reported by

THALES AVIONICS SAS
France
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