JAN 31, 2017 - How do pilots perform in the potential air traffic operations of advanced flight deck interval management and closely spaced parellel operations? Well, there's still some work to be done on all fronts - pilot training, procedures, and flight deck systems - according to a newly published study in the AIAA Journal of Air Transportation by CEC Prof. Amy Pritchett and research engineer, Rachel Haga.
This study examined flight crew designation and dedesignation of target aircraft, with the objective of assessing flight crews’ responses to errors in coupled operations: errors that may be caused by the flight crew, or that may originate outside the flight crew but then need to be detected and resolved by them. The study examined two potential air traffic operations selected to be representative of operations that couple traffic information to the autoflight system: advanced flight-deck interval management and closely spaced parallel operations. Both of these operations couple the autoflight to a traffic target designated by the flight crew, such that the autoflight system commands a flight path relative to this other aircraft. Twelve pilots each flew 12 scenarios in an integrated flight-deck/air traffic control simulation facility. Each scenario had a pitfall representing foreseeable conditions conducive to error by the flight crew or the air traffic controller, and requiring flight crew intervention. Although some of these events were easily identified and resolved by the participants, others were not, creating conditions where the operations were not performed as desired. These results highlighted the need for pilot training, operational procedures that changed the roles of the flight deck and air traffic control, and flight-deck systems used to designate targets for these types of operations.