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Helping Pilots Get Back in Control: Accessing the Human Performance Envelope in Civil Aviation

Date:
Wednesday 2nd December 2015

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Date: 2nd December 2015 Time: 4pm Location: G1 Abstract: Our highly automated aircraft operate with extraordinary levels of safety. The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Global Fatal Accident Review (CAP1036) reported that worldwide, the fatal accident rate between 2002 and 2011 was 0.6 per million flights flown. Aircraft are complex sociotechnical systems in which highly-trained operators and high integrity engineering work together to deliver safe flight every day. All aircraft operate within a flight envelope. A flight envelope is defined by the limits of the aircraft’s structural and control capabilities. For example, there is an upper limit to the height at which aircraft can fly or the rate at which they can turn. Outside of these limits, structural damage to the aircraft or loss of control can occur. Recovery from highly unusual turn or climb rates can become increasingly difficult. The procedures we use in modern transport aircraft are designed to keep aircraft within this flight envelope. Indeed, in some highly-automated aircraft, pilots are unable to make demands on the aircraft that exceed this manufacturer specified flight envelope. As the flight envelope is approached or exceeded, aircraft communicate this to the pilots though a range or alerts and alarms.

In the Global Fatal Accident Review, the most frequently identified primary causal factor in serious accidents was flight handling and skill. That is, the ability of the pilot to effectively fly the aircraft. Our research is looking to characterise the human performance envelope in a similar way in which we can specify and use the engineering performance envelope. If we can reliably detect when a pilot is approaching or exceeding their performance envelope we may be able to assist in reducing the likelihood of catastrophic outcomes. This assistance may include the deployment of automation that could itself recover control of the aircraft, or targeted guidance or warnings which would guide the pilot back to a safe zone within their own human performance envelope.

 
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Date:
Wednesday 2nd December 2015

Find out more

For more information about this event please email conferences@stmarys.ac.uk or call 020 8240 8219.

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