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Charting the Edges of Human Performance
In the Horizon 2020 funded Future Sky Safety programme, the Human Performance Envelope project pushed airline pilots to the edges of their performance in real-time cockpit simulations, by increasing stress and workload, and decreasing situation awareness. The aim was to find out how such factors interact, and to detect the edges of human performance where some form of automation support should be employed to ensure safe continued flight. A battery of measures was used, from behavioural to physiological (e.g. heart rate, eye tracking and pupil dilation), to monitoring pilot performance in real time. Several measures – e.g. heart rate, heart rate variability, eye tracking, cognitive walkthrough, and Human Machine Interface (HMI) usability analysis – proved to be useful and relatively robust in detecting performance degradation, and determining where changes in information presentation are required to better support pilot performance in challenging situations. These results led to proposed changes in a prototype future cockpit human-machine interface, which were subsequently validated in a final simulation. The results also informed the development of a ‘Smart-Vest’ that can be worn by pilots to monitor a range of signals linked to performance.

Authors: B. Kirwan, M. Wies, R. Charles, C.-A. Dormoy, T. Letouze, A. Lemkaddem, N. Maille, J. Nixon, D. Ruscio, C. Schmidt-Moll

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