User-centered design process for a high-risk future aerospace system
Authors: Marc Sebastian Findeisen, Christian Niermann, Jari Küls, Thomas Hofmann
Abstract: This paper is one of two complimentary papers which describes the process from the designer’s point of view. The development process from the engineer’s point of view is described in Christian Niermann’s paper “Development processes of a remote co-pilot to support single pilot operation in the next generation air transportation system.”.In course of the automation of modern aircraft a large number of research projects are working on the topic of single-pilot operations. For their implementation and approval in civil aviation, additional safety measures have to be taken in the actual cockpit and in particular to provide additional support for the pilot flying. This could involve a remote co-pilot (RCP) who is working from a ground control station. Fundamentally, an RCP is a pilot monitoring who works in this new remote work environment. Instead of active flight interventions his primary task is monitoring and providing information for several aircraft at the same time. The single pilot can normally accomplish the flight alone. Consequently, an active collaboration between the RCP and the single pilot takes place only temporarily, for example in problem situations or situations of high workload. The paper highlights the design process for the development of this high-risk remote co-pilot aerospace system and shows the progress of this complex and interdisciplinary research task from the perspective of User Interface designers. The paper explains how the collaboration of engineering and design capabilities was integrated into the design process and positively influenced the quality of the final product.The goal of this project was to conceptualize a user-centered Human Machine Interface (HMI) prototype, for the work of a RCP, on which the Osnabrueck University of Applied Sciences and the German Aerospace Center worked in close coordination. The resulting interface contains aeronautical content that was developed for the implementation of remote aircraft support on the one hand. On the other hand, it includes the structures of information and design aspects for a user-centered high-risk HMI. For a basic requirement analysis, controllers, pilots, engineers and designers were highly involved in the design process from the beginning. For example, in workshops that lead to a creative exchange, wireframes formed the base for discussion. Those are a typical method for defining the fundamental framework of an HMI. Expert interviews were an elementary component in the project for validating HMI concepts, which were discussed and iterated with different functional departments from various points of view. It was finally possible to gain essential findings for the optimization of the interface from a wide variety of very different specialist areas. Those specialists interpreted issues from their unique perspectives and thereby served to optimize the resulting design. The HMI was discussed and validated from an aeronautical perspective as well as from an ergonomic and design perspective, in order to focus on the aspect of user-centered design. In order to benefit from the diversity of expertise, all project participants were involved in the creative process from an early stage of development. Therefore, it was possible to plan the characteristics of the HMI with a lot of content which improved the final product. A final product definitely benefits from the symbiosis of design and specialists’ technical expertise. To achieve this a coherent appearance and intuitive usability, paired with relevant and appropriate functionality is essential for a competitive product.This paper describes the design process of the high-risk interface, the findings on the benefits of designers and engineers working together and it provides an outlook of the developed remote co-pilot workstation design.
Keywords: Design, Engineering, High, Risk HMI, Single Pilot Operation, Remote Aerospace System, Design Process
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