Next Generation Equipment in Air Traffic Control Research Proposal

Pages: 7 (1815 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

¶ … Generation Equipment in Air Traffic Control in Consideration of Human Factors

The objective of this work is to assess next-generation equipment in air traffic control and to do so keeping in mind human factors associated with implementation and use of such equipment.

Today's technology has extended across sector of business and certainly this is true of aviation. Presently there are proposals and implementations for advance in aviation technology and specifically as related to air traffic control that will revolutionize the aviation industry and that will eliminate many of the human factors that lead to error and disaster in that the technology available will take the guesswork out of the equation through provision of more thorough information for the use of the human being.

One example of this is described in the work of Hesselink and Maycroft (2001) entitled: "A Full Visual a-SMGCS Simulation Platform" which relates the "construction and evaluation of a real-time full vision Advanced Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (a-SMGCS) simulation platform for controllers and pilots, including several advanced sensor simulators and a surveillance function." Hesselink and Maycroft state that the project which they report was the very first of such projects to "...demonstrate and use a full a-SMGCS platform for evaluation of a-SMGCS operation concepts and procedures." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

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The a-SMGCS will serve to "enhance airport efficiency and capacity in low visibility, while at the same time maintaining the current safety level." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) However, Hesselink and Maycroft states that use of this technology must first be met with "extensive offline trials" and since Europe has expressed a "fast growing need...for a simulation environment capable of testing, evaluating and demonstrating a comprehensive environment..." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) a-SMGCS is stated to make such a provision.

I. a-SMCGS PROJECT

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Next Generation Equipment in Air Traffic Control Assignment

According to Hesselink and Maycroft there have been many of the a-SMGCS projects implemented in recent years "leading to first operational implementation of surveillance functions and runaway incursion alert functions at airports at this moment." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) However, the majority of projects are stated to have only one aspect of the a-SMGCS operational "either on the conceptual level or to study one proposed function." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) However Hesselink and Maycroft report the first of all a-SMGCS projects that "have been set up to create a full a-SMGCS simulator with both controllers and pilots in-the-loop that also provide outside visuals for the operators." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

II. SIMULATION PLATFORM COMPONENTS

The simulation platform is comprised by:

control tower, including outside view projection system; (located in Braunschweig, Germany)

Boeing 747 cockpit; (Located in Bedford, UK); and newly built a-SMGCS simulator (Located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

These "geographically distant locations have been coupled in real-time. The projects simulate outside visuals and procedures of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and London Heathrow." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) the following figure is an illustration of the impression of the a-SMGCS control tower with outside visual.

Impression of the a-SMGCS control tower with outside visual

Source: Hesselink and Maycroft (2001)

The following figure is an illustration of the LATCH Boeing 747 cockpit.

LATCH Boeing 747 cockpit

Source: Hesselink and Maycroft (2001)

III. ARCHITECTURE of the PROJECT

The functional areas stated within the frame of the projects are the following functional areas:

Surveillance. A function of the system that provides identification and accurate positional information on aircraft, vehicles, and unauthorized targets within the required area.

Control. Application of measures to prevent collisions, runway incursions, and to ensure safe, efficient, and expeditious movement.

Routing. The planning and assignment of a route to individual aircraft and vehicles to provide safe, efficient, and expeditious movement from its current position to its intended position.

Guidance. Facilities, information, and advice, necessary to provide continuous, unambiguous, and reliable information to pilots of aircraft and drivers of vehicles to keep their aircraft or vehicles on the surfaces and assigned routes intended for their use. (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

IV. ASSESSMENT of HUMAN FACTORS

The evaluation of the a-SMGCS system was conducted through use of a set of research questions which "formed the basis for a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a-SMGCS procedures. The research questions focused on the "impact of additional information on the HMI in the form of labels." The specific questions asked in this evaluation included those stated as follows:

Are controllers able to work with the labeled situation display?

Do controllers feel that procedures with respect to identification of traffic on the airport has operational significance?

Can controllers dispense with the paper flight strips?

Is there an indication of an increase in capacity or reduction of controller workload during low visibility conditions due to the use of a labeled display?

What kind of system deficiencies can the controller accept with respect to label swap, label drop, loss of track, and positional inaccuracy? (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

Hesselink and Maycroft state that the definition and selection of operational procedures was broken down into three sub-tasks, namely ATC (Air Traffic Control) consultations, selection of procedures and procedure descriptions." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) Four primary European airports were involved in the consultations:

London, Heathrow;

Paris Charels de Gaulle;

Amsterdam Schiphol; and Frankfurt. (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

Comprehensive questionnaires and interviews were utilized by the ATC authorities in gaining information on the present SMGCS of the airport as well as the future planned a-SMGCS and the perceived business benefits of the a-SMGCS as well as "possible operational procedure topics for a-SMGCS." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) it was agreed upon by the interview subjects that a set of "basic or core procedures for a-SMGCS that were put forward by the ATOPS project team." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) the core procedures were stated to be "defined as enablers that give the controllers the basic skills, initially to exploit enhanced surveillance and eventually to use other advanced tools." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001) the core procedures were stated as:

Identification of SMR (Surface Movement Radar) labeled aircraft;

Tactical ground movement control instruction;

Line up after an arrival or departure; and Cross the runway after an arrival or departure. (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

Advanced procedures topics included:

the automatic routing/planning (taxi and departure_;

guidance (automated switching of lighting and signage, free taxi) and the control functions for runway and taxiway conflict alert including incident management and missed approach management. (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

It is related by Hesselink and Maycroft (2001) that in "a limited number of cases" during the evaluation in which a deliberate mismatch was programmed into the flight program that mismatches concerning type of aircraft were missed by the controller "especially when the flight strip and the horizontal situation display showed the same (wrong) information. This mismatch has been blamed on the low resolution of the simulated outside visual (low compared tow hat the human eye is capable of)." (Hesselink and Maycroft, 2001)

In a separate report entitled: "Integrated a-SMGCS User Interface" Dubuisson (2007) reports that implementation of the integrated a-SMGCS requires the development of "Functional Specifications and associated Human-Machine Interface (HMI) Human Factors and Safety Requirements for the ITWP." Dubuisson states that the study focused on identification of the human factors in this system and identified three specific positions that are integrally important:

1) runway;

2) ground; and 3) clearance. (Dubuisson, 2007)

All three roles are stated to have 'standard functions' and as well "each role is configured to the tasks required to be performed." (Dubuisson, 2007) These three positions of control are the primary human factors that must be considered because a breakdown in communication between these three control positions is likely to result in a runway disaster.

The work of Thomas B. Sheridan (nd) entitled: "Next Generation Air Transportation Systems: Human-Automation Interaction and Organizational Risks" states that aircraft traffic is going to increase greatly in the world's airports. The following figure is stated by Sheridan to represent the assumptions underlying planning for the Next Generation Air Transportation System.

Assumptions Underlying Planning for the Next Generation Air Transportation System

Source: Sheridan (nd)

The vision stated by Sheridan is one that is based "on nominal schedules, weather observation and prediction, fuel considerations, and improve Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcase (ADS-B) surveillance technology..." And a large scale computer system that would make the determination and negotiation with flight crews, airline operations managers and air traffic managers for (near) optimal 4D trajectories." (Sheridan, nd) Aircraft that is non-equipped would be restricted to lower altitudes along with other constraints and fully-equipped aircraft would be controlled "in flight mostly automatically, with guidance coming form the external air traffic management computer system." (Sheridan, nd)

Sheridan notes the specific human factors that would have to be considered and states them as follows:

Confusion over who (human) or what (computer) has authority at different stages of flight.

Problems of robustness, reliability and operator trust in computer-based decision support tools and computer control in general.

Control instabilities resulting from closed-loop time delays due to air traffic controller time-sharing of attention, or needed perceptual and decision time.

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