Lit aircraft instrument control panel

REducing WorkloAd Through EffiCient TechnOlogy and ProceduRes - REACTOR

Funder

CleanSky2 (European Union)

Total value of project

£3,911,930

Value to Coventry University

£250,954

Project team

Professor Don Harris, Dr James Blundell, Dr Steve Scott

Collaborators

GE Aviation Systems (Lead), BAE Systems, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Centre)

Duration of project

April 2016 - December 2021

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Project overview

Aviation safety is of paramount concern to everyone in the aerospace industry from component, equipment, system and whole aircraft designers and manufacturers through airline operators, flight and ground crew to passengers. Cockpit workload and specifically pilot workload and situational awareness have been identified as key contributors to aircraft safety and have been cited along with aircraft system complexity in a number of recent accident reports1. As cockpit crew are key actors during the flight, their behaviour and actions play a major role in the achievement of the safety performance. In addition, cockpit avionics, providing the tools to support the crew’s activities and allowing the interaction between the pilot, the aircraft and the outside world, likewise play a significant role in providing several layers of protection. Trends within the aerospace industry indicate potential for cockpit work load to increase.

One consequence of these trends is that pilots will need to work with increasingly complex aircraft systems and will need to operate in increasingly congested airspace with a potentially detrimental effect on pilot workload. At the same time the aerospace industry is working to ensure greater levels of safety. There is a need to introduce automation into the cockpit, simplifying aircraft operations and reducing cockpit effective workload.

Coventry University provided Human Factors support for the development of voice command, pilot visor, pilot monitoring and ground control support station technologies. In addition, Coventry developed a predictive model of pilot workload for the prospective estimation of cognitive demand for use in the early design stages of new flight deck technology development.

Project objectives

The objective of the REACTOR project is to develop and evaluate a suite of technologies in support of reduced cockpit workload and improved situational awareness.

  • The emphasis is on enhancing operational capability and safety, for high intensity/short haul operations and developing the flight deck technologies for such an aircraft viable.

    These technologies are now progressing to a technology readiness level such that they may be available on commercial aircraft by 2030. Display formats developed will support safe low visibility operations (landings, taxi guidance, etc.) and the development of pilot assistance technologies delivered via a ground station will make the development of a single pilot airliner a viable proposition by 2035, as well as decreasing the workload in current generation muti-crew cockpits.

  • Harris, D. (2017). The Future Flight Deck.  In, D. HARRIS (ed) Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics: LNCS 10275 (pp. 222 – 230). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

    Harris, D. (2018). Network Re-analysis of Boeing 737 Accident at Kegworth Using Different Potential Crewing Configurations for a Single Pilot Commercial Aircraft. In, D. HARRIS (ed) Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics: LNAI 10906. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

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