Aviation Automation: The Search for a Human-Centered Approach

Aviation Automation: The Search for a Human-Centered Approach

Aviation Automation: The Search for a Human-Centered Approach

Aviation Automation: The Search for a Human-Centered Approach


The advent of very compact, very powerful digital computers has made it possible to automate a great many processes that formerly required large, complex machinery. Digital computers have made possible revolutionary changes in industry, commerce, and transportation. This book, an expansion and revision of the author's earlier technical papers on this subject, describes the development of automation in aircraft and in the aviation system, its likely evolution in the future, and the effects that these technologies have had -- and will have -- on the human operators and managers of the system. It suggests concepts that may be able to enhance human-machine relationships in future systems. The author focuses on the ability of human operators to work cooperatively with the constellation of machines they command and control, because it is theinteractions amongthese system elements that result in the system's success or failure, whether in aviation or elsewhere. Aviation automation has providedgreat social and technological benefits, but these benefits have not come without cost. In recent years, new problems in aircraft have emerged due to failures in the human-machine relationship. These incidents and accidents have motivated this inquiry into aviation automation. Similar problems in the air traffic management system are predicted as it becomes more fully automated. In particular, incidents and accidents have occurred which suggest that the principle problems with today's aviation automation are associated with its complexity, coupling, autonomy, and opacity. These problems are not unique to aviation; they exist in other highly dynamic domains as well. The author suggests that a different approach to automation -- called "human-centered automation" -- offers potential benefits for system performance by enabling a more cooperative human-machine relationship in the control and management of aircraft and air traffic.


Barry H. Kantowitz Battelle Human Factors Transportation Center Seattle, Washington

The domain of transportation is important for both practical and theoretical reasons. All of us are users of transportation systems as operators, passengers, and consumers. From a scientific viewpoint, the transportation domain offers an opportunity to create and test sophisticated models of human behavior and cognition. This series covers both practical and theoretical aspects of human factors in transportation, with an emphasis on their interaction.

The series is intended as a forum for researchers and engineers interested in how people function within transportation systems. All modes of transportation are relevant, and all human factors and ergonomic efforts that have explicit implications for transportation systems fall within the series purview. Analytic efforts are important to link theory and data. the level of analysis can be as small as one person, or international in scope. Empirical data can be from a broad range of methodologies, including laboratory research, simulator studies, test tracks, operational tests, field work, design reviews, or surveys. This broad scope is intended to maximize the utility of the series for readers with diverse backgrounds.

I expect the series to be useful for professionals in the disciplines of human factors, ergonomics, transportation engineering, experimental psychology, cognitive science, sociology, and safety engineering. It is intended to appeal to the transportation specialist in industry, government, or academia, as well as the researcher in need of a testbed for new ideas about the interface between people and complex systems.

This volume is focused on the aviation domain. It offers eloquent and carefully reasoned arguments for a human-centered approach to the human factors of development and implementation of new technology in aviation. Part I is an overview of automation in aviation and explains both the application of automation and the concept of human-centered automation. Part ii traces the evolution and course of aviation automation. This covers air traffic control and management as well as aircraft automation. Part iii discusses the roles of human operators in the aviation system and human-machine integration in the future system. Part iv looks to the future and expands on novel concepts and requirements for aviation automation and its certification. Forthcoming books in this series will continue this blend of practical and theoretical perspectives on transportation human factors.

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