Regardless of any higher level of automation the human operator on the ground and in the air has to remain the important final decision maker in the air traffic system. To support controller and pilots and to relieve their workload the design of the Human-Machine-Interfaces has to take into account the limits and strengths of human cognition.
This area comprises expertise, methodologies and facilities about the integration of the human element in highly automated systems. Integration is performed with new technology and/or new procedures in order to enhance safety and capacity of air transportation. This includes aircraft operation, air traffic control and management, and aircraft maintenance.
Human Factors work seeks to improve the understanding of how highly skilled operators such as pilots and air traffic controllers cope with their task demands and how new technology may support them efficiently.
The design of the human-machine interface is of crucial importance in this regard. Design solutions are based on principles of human-centred automation and tested in simulations as well as in field trials to ensure that they exploit and support the cognitive performance of the operator, avoid excessive workload in order to ultimately support the maintenance of situation awareness particularly in critical off-routine situations.
The comprehensive and integrative implementation of design solutions has to go beyond individual human-machine cooperation and must aim at an improved cooperation between all operators. This requires human factors integration into the process of system development, covering the whole range from initial ideas to operational implementation.
Major elements of this approach are:
modelling and simulation of human information processing, decision making and human-machine interaction, both for single operator and multi operator task aspects. This supports the development and validation of operational concepts and tools in the early stages of the design,
to assess new technologies of human-machine cooperation which make use of multi-modal interaction with elements of augmented reality and virtual reality techniques,
careful, controlled experimentation which provides information about the possible consequences of changes in the operational environment. The results obtained from experimentation can then guide development of the most appropriate and effective strategies to offset any detrimental consequences from these changes