Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), Avinor and Edda Systems to research user interface (UI) and safety for future ATM systems

IFE has received a notification from Oslofjordfondet that the project application from IFE together with Avinor and Edda Systems has been granted a budget for the period 2015-2017. The project is named ALMAR (A Large-scale Management of Air traffic control Research), and its purpose is to increase safety and efficiency in ATC by managing complexity by use of interaction design implemented by UI (User Interface) technology.

A common challenge in organizing aviation is perception of large amounts of data. This type of complexity is a major challenge for human perceptual capacity. An example is air traffic controllers (ATCO) who must handle multiple safety critical operations simultaneously. An important aspect of air traffic control is situational awareness. From this perspective, it is not recommended to design systems based on technology oriented solutions, but instead base solutions on user-centered design. The user-centered design is based on research on human perception of information.

Another challenge is to prove that new ATC solutions are sufficiently safe, which is a precondition for commencing a solution in an operational context. A central concept is Safety Assurance related to minimizing the risk of operational hazards by a systematic combination of processes, techniques, methods, and solutions in the development of safety-critical systems.

Within the aviation industry, this is justified largely by applying adequate safety regimes to manufactured systems according to industry-specific standards, which are essentially process-oriented. To follow a recognized process is a weak evidence for system safety. Therefore, it is a need for sharper focus on the product itself and then consequently to base the argumentation for safety on a product perspective. eCoach is an ATC simulator made by Edda Systems which is designed to support training of ATCOs. The product can also support research-based development of new ATC concepts, e.g. user testing of new UI platforms for ATCOs.

Edda Systems and Avinor will cooperate with IFE in the project to exploit recent knowledge from general research in interaction design and system safety for the design of practical ATC solutions from a user-centered perspective.

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