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ODICIS - One DIsplay for a Cockpit Interactive Solution

Final Report Summary - ODICIS (One DIsplay for a Cockpit Interactive Solution)

The ODICIS project aimed at developing a single display cockpit associated with adequate means of interaction. This addressed three current major aeronautics needs: the system architecture flexibility, the useful surface optimisation and the information continuity. Therefore the project aimed at improving the operational safety and efficiency while reducing the aircraft development cost.

The first objective was to prove the technical feasibility of an avionics large seamless display, which can possibly be curved. This involved optical but also graphic generation challenges. The design of the display took into account as much as possible user wishes and aircraft possibilities.

In parallel to this activity, the proper means of interaction were defined and implemented. It consisted in a truly multi-touch surface addressing the whole display surface without degrading the optical quality of the display. At this point, a complete technological mock-up of a single display cockpit was available for evaluations.

Meanwhile, the concepts of use, that stimulated the idea of a single display cockpit, were reviewed, deepened and tested on the mock-up. Human factors evaluations sought to ascertain the benefits produced by this novel cockpit concept based on use of a single display.

Project context and objectives:

After apparition of cockpits in World War I, World War II brought the second quantum leap in technology and complexity. This involved the development of more and more complex cockpits with multi-person crews required to operate large aircrafts. However, cockpit design layout and philosophy were not standardized at this time.

The quantum leap of the 1940s paved the way for the modern air transport system and the modern airliner. Cockpit layouts became standardised and more and more complicated as technology advanced and more complex aircrafts were developed, from the piston-engine DC-4 operating in the 1940s, through the first jets of the 1950s, such as the Comet, to the Concorde of the late 1960.

The next quantum leap in cockpit technology of civil air transports is materialised by the introduction of the glass cockpit in the early 1980s, supported by digital computer technology. This was the mean for the 'black cockpit' concept to emerge: only the useful information is displayed, otherwise the cockpit is mainly black, on the contrary to the Concorde's too abundant information display. Also, as technologies matured, more avionics functions became available and this led to the cockpit finally becoming an integrated workspace.

Currently the main trends of cockpit evolution can be identified as follows:
- rationalisation of cockpits equipment by reducing the number of dedicated input media / output devices and processing platforms;
- optimising the usage of the available input media / output devices;
- improving system availability and fault tolerance;
- increasing the size of displays / reducing their number (current standards);
- towards paperless cockpits, as 'zero paper' in offices: electronic flight bag (EFB) is a consequence of this new concept.

All the major types of cockpits are impacted by this evolution: general aviation, business jets, regional and commercial aircraft, military aircraft and helicopters.

Also, tomorrow cockpits will have to address new sky policies driven by concepts such as SESAR, NEXTGEN or CLEANSKY. Today, the SESAR ATM master plan lists a number of research and development (R&D) items that will lead to the introduction of new functions on board aircrafts (4D trajectory, airport navigation system, synthetic vision), and CLEANSKY is expected to need new mission management functions to support green operations.

Due to the limited size of cockpit displays, the integration of these new applications on current cockpit displays will saturate the crew with information: an information display optimisation will thus be needed.

In addition, the cockpit interface will typically be redesigned several times over the course of an aircraft's operational life to add new functions and address equipment obsolescence, which is becoming a major through life cost driver.

As further explained, ODICIS will give a step change improvement in cockpit design to meet these major challenges, through the development of a scalable single large display cockpit.

Project results:

The first objective has considered different viewpoints from which deriving requirements, including: equipment, aircraft integration, certification and safety. Requirements definition has considered existing guidelines and standards as well as expertise of consortium partners to adapt / define specific requirements suitable for a state-of-the-art large cockpit display.

Across each WP1 deliverable, a common method for requirement numbering and identification has been adopted in order to facilitate requirement traceability.

The definition of a framework for mock-up validation activities was the focus of the second objective. Such framework was conceived considering the prototype development phases as well as the opportunity for demonstrating that the design requirements would have been captured into the final large display mock-up.

Overall, 351 requirements were generated, which benefited from the involvement of consortium engineering expertise, presence of end-user and EEAG members.

The general objectives of the WP 'Technologies' are:
- to define and build adequate display hardware fitting the single display cockpit requirements based on projection display;
- to define and build the adequate means of interaction, such as multitouch or haptics.

The objective of this WP was to design a system architecture, which achieves the single display cockpit requirements. The system architecture defines the hardware components required to allocate the functional components as defined in WP1. In the following step, the graphics generator were analysed and designed followed by a safety analysis of the components. A demonstration platform to demonstrate the image management algorithms was developed and integrated with the projection solution provided by WP2.

The objective of this WP was to define and assess a proposal for the use of a single display. It first started with the definition of the shape of a single display and the organisation of the usual controls (thrust lever, landing gear control lever, standby instrument, etc.). The second objective was to propose a human-machine interface (HMI) suited to the single display. This process went from the high-level information layout to a detailed proposal of HMI for each fundamental format (primary flight display, navigation display, system pages, etc.). Finally a key expected outcome of this WP was the definition and prototyping of the ODICIS mock-up.

Following the various part task evaluations, the goal of WP5 was to provide evaluations on the final mock-up. The evaluations decomposed into technical evaluations and operational evaluations. The technical evaluations aimed at assessing aspects such as image quality brightness, viewing angles, power efficiency, response time of the tactile system, etc. One of the key features of projection technology is that it retains a good image quality and colour consistency at large viewing angles.

The operational evaluations took place with pilots from Alitalia and also experts from the external experts advisory group (EEAG). Some questionnaires were filled during the evolution of a scenario involving several flight phases by 4 test persons in December 2011, and then 8 test persons in January 2012 on the last iteration of the interfaces, for a total of 12 participants (N = 12).

Potential impact:

The objectives of the dissemination activities were to define the industrial exploitation plan, to ensure dissemination of results to stakeholders, European industries and academics and to ensure communication through publications and a website.

The communication and dissemination strategy was transversal to the whole project. Dissemination is essential to ensure that the results of ODICIS reach the widest possible group of European stakeholders and hence secure the biggest possible societal impact in Europe.

The target audience for dissemination were:
(a) pilots in their role as end-users, aircraft manufacturers as potential customers;
(b) the authorities that will be involved in the required rulemaking, safety assessment and certification of the newly developed onboard system; and
(c) the wider aviation community and general public.

Dissemination and promotion of ODICIS results happened through large-scale communication events (symposiums, publications, website) and workshops that favoured the exchange of ideas.

Communication events included European scientific symposiums either impacted by the whole ODICIS concept or only part of it such as display technology to present the project results.

Dissemination to a wide audience was also ensured through publications at conferences, in journals and in media.

Promotion of the project was finally achieved by means of a dedicated web site designed to present the scope and objectives of ODICIS.

To stimulate cross-pollination of ideas, workshops were held three times during the project lifetime with EEAG composed of different European airliners, aircraft manufacturers, official organisation and certification experts. The workshops offered the opportunity to exchange on the concept, reliability and the safety of a single display cockpit, using the results of the project.

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