A design strategy for human-system integration in aerospace : where to start and how to design information integration for dynamic, time and safety critical systems
The aim of this research is to develop a framework that provides systemic design guidance for future interfaces that are to provide effective and cognitively suitable information presentation to operators in dynamic and time-critical domains. The aerospace domain has been chosen as the focus for this study. In the aerospace domain there are numerous reported accidents where contributory factors are attributed to pilots’ misunderstanding of automated system configurations, and pilots’ misinterpretation of system behaviour. These problems have occurred as rapid advances in technology have led to an overabundance of ‘useful’ information being presented to the pilot. Currently, the information presented to pilots is often disjointed and distributed across various interfaces where each interface is based on its own design rationale. This creates problems where the pilot either cannot locate information in a timely manner, or misinterprets the available information. There is a need for a systematic design process that deals with meaningfully presenting the abundance of features and interactions of the new technology introduced into the cockpit through the use of existing domain knowledge, structures and strategies drawn from existing pilot training and experience. The thesis is a case study. It shows how a new systematic interface design guidance process was developed by first identifying effective information presentation directly from airforce and airline pilots in their time-critical working environment conducted through observational and empirical studies. The studies provided answers for research questions that were concerned with finding appropriate information presentations for pilots. This resulted in a framework that serves as a guide for the interface designer on how to arrive at, structure and present information to an operator in a cognitively efficient manner. The thesis demonstrates two applications of the design framework, one of which is then evaluated by pilots who demonstrate significantly improved speed and accuracy performance when compared to conventional alphanumerical displays. The applications and limitations of the framework are also discussed.