ACHIL - Aeronautical Computer Human Interaction

Plateforme ACHIL

Transverse Program - Aeronautical Computer Interaction Lab (ACHIL)

The work in the program is a topic on which the ENAC has a long established experience and legitimacy. In addition, ENAC hosts an aeronautical population familiar with the specific problems of the trades concerned (piloting or air traffic control).

 Currently, ENAC, through the Interactive Critical Systems Engineering team ///, has built in-depth and theoretical knowledge in HMI. The objective of this program is to benefit from this work and to apply it to the field of aeronautics. This work will focus on the problems of automation, the collaboration of the human operator or with other operators (eg air/ ground communication), or with advanced algorithms requiring specific tools and reflection around the sharing and distribution of roles and responsibilities. Also is to be explored the timely management of the activity, and the support needed for the time-planning and the management of interruptions.

 Finally, the use of advanced interactions, such as tactile, bi-manual or multi-touch, and advanced visualization (animations, graphical representations) constitute an axis of exploration to propose innovative and efficient HMIs. More generally, applied research will focus on solving the transition problem inherent to tool changes and in embarking change management for operators right from the design stage. To this end, the participatory approach will be at the heart of the working methods of this program.
The axes of reflection are mainly centered on the following three themes:

Human factors and training

Human performance in complex situations. Cognitive mechanisms, priority management, Situation-Awareness, real-time evaluation of cognitive load

  • Selection / training of operators, ageing, fatigue, stress
  • Design of specific tools for training in aeronautical jobs (pilots, Air traffic controllers
  • Stakes for the HMI: performance, degraded context, dynamic adaptation... 

As safety remains a central concern in aeronautics, the issue of man-machine system performance is a key issue. Thus, work has been carried out to understand and measure the performance of the human operator in critical situations characteristic of the aeronautical field.

The use of experimental controlled situations is therefore used, often in collaboration with the neurosurgery team of the ISAE neighbour school. Work on air traffic control has focused on low-level cognitive processes such as alarms detection or cognitive workload assessed by EEG, as well as interaction itself and its physical and sensory mechanisms through the study of their timeliness and efficiency. Studies of pilot student selection focused on higher-level cognitive processes such as learning in uncertain environments through behavioral and physiological variables (eye movements).

Further, these works falls within the wider perspective of cooperation between human operators and artificial agents.

From a decision-sharing perspective, work is aimed at exploring the ability of control interfaces to facilitate not only the human activity as it is today, but also to support the Mixed decision making in cohabitation with various automation (robots, decision aids, dynamic reconfigurations of the sectors ...). This work will explore the mechanisms of delegation and monitoring. The advances of robotics are, in this regard, a confirmation of the interest of this approach and the significant potential that emerges from it. This work is conducted in collaboration with the other ENAC laboratories for the algorithmic aspects, interaction or visualization. They also involve external partners (Airbus, NTU, ISAE ...)

Digital airport

The theme aims to federate various initiatives contributing to the improvement of the performance of the airports and their transition towards a more advanced level of security, resilience to unexpected degradation and overall optimization of their performance. Improvements will be directed at several angles  : the HMI for a start, as a lever for cooperation between the various airport actors, automation further, or the use of robots as tools for the activity of airport operators and digitization last, either for "virtualization" or to meet the increase in actors and work positions, and the interconnection of information systems.

Cockpit Aeronautics

The contribution to the dedicated cockpit work, such as the interest of tangibility in the cockpit, or the better understanding of the cognitive processes of the pilot or the instructor will allow to propose evolutions of the instruments of the cockpit, to better accompany the pilots in the accomplishment of their daily tasks, the management of their priorities, and to facilitate the detection of alarms, countermeasures against tunneling. All such prospects are designed to achieve the increase of the security sought. Accompanying the integration of aids and automation in the cockpit will also be part of the objectives sought.

The current development of a flying tesbed (dedicated to research in Human Factors and HMI aeronautics) will shorten the time of exploration and validation of advanced concepts in this field.

In this area of ​​the cockpit, special attention is given to the problem of training. This work includes projects such as the study of the learning of procedures with multimedia devices, the oculometric study of the visual circuits and their use in training or the evaluation of the cognitive workload by physiological measurements EEG and pupillary diameter).

The  ACHIL Platform - Aeronautical Computer Human Interaction Lab

A dedicated laboratory (ACHIL) serves as a platform for these activities. This platform dedicated to HMI will be set up, shared with partner laboratories or industry, in order to explore new aeronautical concepts and prototypes and to analyze working methods and their evolutions.

The ACHIL platform focuses on the analysis and design of operational systems (software, organizations) involving human operators (pilots, controllers, etc.).

The field of application of the ACHIL platform is Aeronautics both on the ground and on board. Thus, perfectly in line with ENAC's missions and strategy, our research questions and issues stem from the needs expressed by the aeronautical sector (institutions, programs, industry). The work on this platform is intended to transpose on the applied fields of piloting or air traffic control the knowledge resulting from the academic work of the research teams of the ENAC. They aim in particular at supporting the work of the different aeronautical operators, (pilots, air traffic controllers), the human factors aspects and training, as well as the design of HMI and digital tools for future ATC and avionics systems.

Moreover, the platform is a locus for the integration of transverse skills, such as those derived from algorithms, complexity measurement, telecommunications or economy. The objective is to create a place of integration and innovation that can take advantage of knowledge and technologies from different backgrounds.

Finally, a specific activity of prototyping is intended to support the training of aeronautical populations.. The objective is multiple: to understand the learning mechanisms and the circumstances that maximize their effectiveness, and then to decline concepts in the tools themselves intended for the training of the pilots and controllers.

 Simulations and user centered design will be widely used. Realism of the environment: the simulation tools used must allow the construction of a very realistic environment for operational experts (AMAN, TCAS, safety nets, aircraft models, etc.).

More information on HMI Research ENAC website ///

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