Despite the substantial and proven safety benefits of automation systems in 3rd and 4th generation aircraft, evidence indicates that when faced with unexpected and challenging situations, pilots sometimes have difficulties in quickly responding to situations which require a rapid transition in their activity from monitors of very reliable systems, to active and authoritative decision-makers exercising manual control of the aircraft.
The task of the project Man4Gen is to better prepare crews for such situations by modifying pilot training, procedures as well as flight deck systems. The project is funded by the 7th EU framework programme. The consortium includes NLR (National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands), Airbus, Boeing, the University of Vienna, the Medical University of Vienna, Linköpping University, the training provider GTA and the simulator-consulting company IDT. The project started in 2012 and it will end in December 2015.
In the scope of the first simulator campaign using the DLR-simulator AVES the crews’ reactions to unexpected events was analysed in detail. The proper response to those events required creative problem-solving competencies. For the experiments it had to be guaranteed that the results are applicable to real line operations. Hence the crew briefing was derived from the flight preparation that is usually conducted before line flights. The scenario was designed as line-flight from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. During the landing approach to Frankfurt various incidents occurred to which the crews had to react.
Due to low visibility the crew had to perform a go-around. During the go-around problems with the autopilot forced the crew to take over manually. Finally, after a flock of birds had damaged both engines, the crew faced the challenge to safely operate the aircraft in manual flight while taking decisions that reduce the resulting risks to a minimum.
The findings derived from the experiments were used to develop new training methods as well as a new flight deck display with a corresponding procedure. The modifications should support the crews to solve problems for which definite and obvious solutions do not exist. Those innovations are currently tested and assessed in the scope of four simulator campaigns taking place in Braunschweig, Amsterdam, Madrid and Abu Dhabi.