Federal Aviation Administration
1 January 2014 – 31 December 2014
Co-P.I. Dr. Thomas Ferris
Total award $333,890
The goal of the Weather Technology in the Cockpit (WTIC) General Aviation Weather Alerting is to assess the feasibility to develop agile, low latency cockpit weather alerts to identify hazardous weather with minimal pilot analysis. Results from this research will be increased understanding of the impacts of low latency, alert interface and assimilation factors on GA pilot decision making, uncertainty, and safety.
The investigation team combines cockpit displays and interfaces, aviation meteorology, aviation safety, human factors engineering, and pilot training expertise. The team will be led by Dr. John Valasek of Texas A&M; University (TAMU), who will serve as Principle Investigator, and Co-Principle Investigator Dr. Thomas Ferris at TAMU. Professor Lori Brown of Western Michigan University (WMU) will lead the efforts at WMU, working with Meteorology Professor Dr. Geoff Whitehurst of WMU, and Dr. William G. Rantz at WMU. Graduate and undergraduate students at each institution will assist the investigators.
- Increase understanding of the impacts of low latency, weather alerting function interface and assimilation factors on general aviation (GA) pilot decision making, uncertainty, and safety.
- Assess feasibility of agile, low latency cockpit weather alert functions to support pilots in identifying hazardous weather with minimal analytical effort.
- Find beneficial use cases for low latency weather alert functions by identifying high priority scenarios, and consult WTIC program office for verification of these scenarios.
- Perform trade studies on alert implementations and design/develop a prototype.
- Detail whether each suggested alert function is intended for strategic or tactical situations/use cases/scenarios, or both.
- Verify alert prototype benefits.
The project has two 12-month phases. The broad objective of Phase I is to assess the feasibility of agile, low latency cockpit weather alerting functions that require minimal engineering and pilot analysis. Phase I will serve to gather evidence to continue to the full Phase II study. Phase II will consist of flight evaluations which lead to recommendations for practice. Each phase is detailed below.Phase I is a study to gather preliminary data to determine alert functions that may be more effective for disseminating weather information to GA pilots compared to traditional graphical representations. It will determine the feasibility (via trade study) of implementing selected alert functions for certain architectures. Under Phase I, a thorough literature review will be conducted to identify any similar recent studies, and identify existing and potential alert functions to explore further from the results of the analysis. The focus will be on meteorological (MET) information gaps and shortfalls that contribute to the safety risk that may be mitigated through the use of a more effective weather alert function. This phase will identify which weather alert functions are currently implemented by the GA population to determine which new alerts may have the potential to reduce accidents. The data will be used to find beneficial use cases for low latency weather alert functions by identifying high priority scenarios where an alert would be helpful (icing turbulence, VMC to IMC, thunderstorm, etc.). Five relevant scenarios will be generated and then validated with cost effective low-fidelity simulation evaluations, including Human Factors analyses. This will lead to a more extensive flight training device assessment using low, medium, and high time pilots in Phase II. The results of Phase I will include recommendations on what the specific alert function(s) should entail / encompass for the validation and verification flight testing program in Phase II.
Phase II will utilize high fidelity flight training devices for evaluations and to examine specific flight outcomes and potential human factors issues within a large sampling size of GA pilots.
Working with me on this program are Research Assistants:
- James Henrickson, M.S. student
- Joshua Harris, B.S. student