In recent years continuous efforts by the Aviation community to improve upon the safety record within the Air Transport industry have been successful. However, recently the reduction in the accident rate seems to have reached a plateau, stabilising at a rate of approximately 2 accidents for every million departures which translates into 1 accident every million flight hours. With over 22 million departures recorded in 2010, this equates to one accident occurring every 10 days worldwide. With air traffic volumes foreseen to grow steadily in the coming decades (4.7% to 5.0% per year), this accident rate whilst very low, may translate into several major incidents and accidents per week.
THIS POTENTIAL DANGER CALLS FOR A STEP CHANGE IN AIR TRANSPORT TECHNOLOGIES AND PRACTICES
Today, the outstanding safety level of air transport is in part due to the standard practice of having a two-pilot flight crew. Pilots have in many circumstances prevented accidents, notably mid-air collisions.
However, between 1990 and 2010, issues involving the flight crew were a contributing factor in 60% of fatal accidents. As technology has progressed, accidents solely based on technical causes have become less numerous. Furthermore, with the increased complexity of aircraft systems, this can explain why the cause of a large percentage of recent accidents can be attributed to human factors, such as difficulties in perception of the environment, non-complete situational awareness, and omission of action or inappropriate action. The conditions described have in a number of cases resulted in crew errors being a contributing factor in aviation accidents. All these factors have common roots in pilot fatigue, stress, health and training.
The predicted overall growth of Air Traffic will increase the frequency of such events when pilots’ attention and actions will be required to be at their highest level, especially during the approach, landing, turn-around and take off phase.
Certain combinations of unpredictable situations, such as difficult meteorological conditions, multiple system failures or cockpit crew incapacitation, can lead to peak workload conditions. The amount of information and actions to process may, in these specific and difficult to predict cases, exceed the reasonably acceptable workload of the crew. As accidents are more likely to occur when workload in the cockpit is high, improving crew performance in peak workload conditions is thus critical to enhance safety.
ACROSS WILL DEVELOP NEW COCKPIT APPLICATIONS AND HUMAN-MACHINE INTERFACES COVERING ALL SAFETY RELATED CREW DUTIES, WITH THE OVERALL GOAL OF REDUCING CREW WORKLOAD AND IMPROVING THE SAFETY LEVEL IN TWO-PILOT OPERATIONS.
The project will firstly assess workload volume and stress of pilots: a Crew Monitoring Environment will be studied in order to monitor physiological and behavioural parameters of the crew and a new indicator will be developed to assess crew resource availability.
Cockpit applications and technologies will be developed for situations in which the need is higher than the available crew resources. Such solutions will then be adapted to different challenging situations.
Experts from different stakeholder communities as well as pilots will technically and operationally assess the innovative solutions developed within ACROSS.
The project will therefore engage a large team of key European stakeholders committed to deliver innovation in the field of air transport safety.
The ACROSS project duration is 42 months. The project started on the 1st of January 2013 and it will conclude on the 30th of June 2016.