Because of the large growth in the aviation industry, the sky is getting crowded. This growth is still continuing, It is estimated that in 2015 air traffic is doubled, or even tripled. This will lead to congestion on the airways, causing delays.
A way to reduce these delays is tot use the available airspace more flexible. This more flexible approach demands the ability to accurately fly (complex) trajectories. This asks for a change in the current flight instrumentation.
Flying is predominantly a perceptual task. The current displays do not reflect this perceptual task in a way humans perceive and act.
Technology has evolved and the aviation industry has entered the world of digital information displays. These displays offer the possibility to make precision navigation possible.
A prominent new display is the Tunnel in the Sky display. This display presents flight information in a way that is better suited to the way humans perceive and act.
However, when the airspace is used in a more flexible, dynamic way, temporal information is essential, to avoid collisions with other airtraffic. This information is still not integrated in to the Tunnel in the Sky displays.
Although some research is done to provide temporal information, none of the presented solutions do really integrate temporal information into the tunnel.
Integrating longitudinal information can be done by visualizing a front and rear boundary. In this way a Bubble in the Sky is created.
The Bubble in the Sky can be seen as a 'safe field of travel'. This safe field should reflect the task constraints as determined by the constraints, imposed by the Air Traffic Control and by constraints imposed by the aircraft dynamics.
In visualizing the Bubble in the Sky we can distinct four sub problems:
1) How can the pilot distinct the bubble from the tunnel?
2) How does the pilot know where he is in the bubble?
3) How does the pilot know if he goes too fast or too slow?
4) How can the pilot see beyond the limited field of view in general, and more specific how can the pilot see the rear boundary?
A number of (partial) concepts have been developed to solve the above mentioned problems. A number of (partial) solutions are integrated into three different concepts.
These three different visualizations were tested in an experiment. In this experiment, 6 subjects had to fly a complex approach-to-land trajectory.
The experiment had a preliminary character. Because not much research has been done in this field, it is essential to explore the field before more specific tests can be performed.
Although we now know a little bit more, lots of research needs to be done to come to a final product. Fields for further research are, among other things, the interaction between the Bubble and the aircraft to reflect the constraints better and the visual clutter in the display caused by the tunnel.
The project has been carried out at the Delft
in collaboration with
Delft University of Technology
Wright State University,
Department of Psychology.
The research phase took place at the latter university. I was in the lucky position to reside there (Dayton, Ohio, USA) for 5 months.
The project has been supervised by Dr. Kees Overbeeke (Chair), Prof. dr. Pieter Jan Stappers, Dr. ir. Max Mulder and Prof. dr. John Flach. It has been a privilege and a pleasure working with and learning from these great people.
For the complete thesis and related publication see the publications section