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Model-Based Analysis of Human Errors during Aircraft Cockpit System Design

Periodic Report Summary - HUMAN (Model-based analysis of human errors during aircraft cockpit system design)

The objective of the HUMAN project is to develop a methodology with techniques and prototypical tools supporting the prediction of human errors in ways that are usable and practical for human-centred design of systems operating in complex cockpit environments.

The current approach of analysing systems is error prone as well as costly and time-consuming (based on engineering judgement, operational feedback from similar aircraft, and simulator-based experiments). The HUMAN methodology will allow to detect potential pilot errors more accurately and earlier (in the design) and with reduced effort.

The detection of errors will be achieved by developing and validating a cognitive model of crew behaviour. Cognitive models are a means to make knowledge about characteristic human capabilities and limitations readily available to designers in an executable form. They have the potential to automate parts of the analysis of human errors because they offer the opportunity to simulate the interaction with cockpit systems under various conditions and to predict cognitive processes like the assessment of situations and the resulting choice of actions including erroneous actions. In this way they can be used as a partial 'substitute' for human pilots in early development stages when design changes are still feasible and affordable.

HUMAN will perform experiments on a physical and a virtual simulation platform. The general idea of the two platforms is to use the same core system for both in order to ensure the functional equivalence between the two platforms. This equivalence is a fundamental precondition for validating the cognitive model by producing one the one hand, data sets for predicted crew activities (on the virtual platform) and on the other hand, data sets for actual crew activities (on the physical platform). Predicted and actual crew activities will be compared to assess the quality of the model predictions and to derive requirements for model improvements.

During the first project period the requirement phase was finished and significant progress was made with regard to the development of the physical and virtual platform. Furthermore, a common design methodology for cockpit systems has been defined by the industrial partners and points where the concepts and tools of HUMAN are supposed to bring considerable added value have been identified.

During the second project period the preparation of the physical and virtual simulation platform has been finished. The first cycle of experiments on both platforms has been performed and initial results are available. Furthermore, detailed requirements for the development of the HUMAN techniques and tools have been defined in order to guarantee their usage within a design methodology for cockpit systems.

The output of the HUMAN project will be an innovative means enabling to considerably improve human centred design of cockpit systems including corresponding techniques and tools integrated in a comprehensive methodology for the analysis of human error.

HUMAN will have an impact on aircraft safety. The project will contribute to the objective to reduce the accident rate by enhancing the accuracy of pilot error prediction. Furthermore, it will contribute to the objective to achieve a substantial improvement in the elimination of and recovery from human error by reducing the design effort of active and passive safety measures.

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