Future Flight Deck Project

Coventry University along with General Electric Aviation Systems, BAE Systems and the University of Southampton has just agreed a large-scale research contract funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board.

The design of the next generation of flight decks will primarily be driven by the requirements to support aircraft operation in a Single European Airspace/ NextGen (Next Generation) airspace. In addition the flight deck design must support associated concepts such as 4-D (four-dimensional) flight planning and zero visibility landing which will extend the operational envelop and offer significant fuel savings.

The advanced capabilities of the proposed flight deck technologies will also improve the availability of the aircraft by providing the pilot with a fuller picture of the aircraft situation, supporting their decision making process and optimising the availability of the aircraft across a range of operational scenarios.

The future flight deck technology project will develop a new flight deck architecture and the related technologies including displays, data networks, graphics and general processing on which to implement the architecture. The project challenge for the partners is to reduce the time to market, cost, size, weight and power while improving the capability and functionality of a new flexible, open architecture flight deck capable of being operated by a reduced number of flight deck crew. The project will serve to develop a sustainable UK capability in the design and delivery of the next generation aircraft flight decks.

The open architecture flight deck user system developed will comprise new:

• Head Down Displays

• Head Up Displays

• Head Mounted Displays

• Touchscreens, and

• Integrated pilot interfaces

Throughout the project the consideration of human factors aspects of the new technology solutions will inform design decisions, enabling more radical approaches to flight operations to be evaluated. It is the Human Factors requirements that will drive the design of the new flight deck, not the technology. Aspects of the development programme will include the development and evaluation of novel interface designs and the examination of flight crew interactions with multiple display surfaces. However the primary role of the University partners (Coventry and Southampton) will be to develop novel system architectures based upon the principles of distributed cognition which will allow for the safe and expedient operation of commercial aircraft with a reduced number of flight deck crew.

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