Research Integrations Blog

Creating a Foundation for Human Factors Guidelines for Ground Control Station Design and Operations

We are very excited to share that we have added a report to our website that summarizes our first year efforts on tasks related to developing human factors guidelines for Ground Control Station (GCS) design and operations. This work is being performed as part of the Human Systems Integration (HSI) component of the NASA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) integration in the National Airspace System (NAS). In 2012, we focused our efforts on gathering and describing information to be used as a foundation for developing the human factors guidelines and for future tasks in support of the NASA UAS Integration in the NAS project.

Year 1 Tasks and Objectives

In Year 1 of this project we completed a review of the 14 CFR Part 23 and Part 25 FAA regulations, analyzed the results and determined requirements for ground control stations that may not be adequately covered by the regulations. In addition, we documented associated FAA guidance material (ACs and Industry Standards) that we determined were related to the topic areas we identified in our report.

Year 1 Results

In our review of the FAA 14 CFR Part 23 and 25 regulations we identified many areas of focus related to challenges associated with the development, operation, and certification of UAS Ground Control Stations. The following is a list of the top-level topics we have pulled out and addressed:

  • Information Requirements
  • Control Capability and Functionality
  • Physical Location and Layout of Controls and Displays
  • Pilot Capabilities and Limitations
  • Pilot Control Responsibility and Authority
  • System Reliability
  • Voice and Data Recorders
  • Manipulation of Mechanical Objects on the Aircraft
  • General Applicability
  • Security Considerations

 Leveraging the HFYI Design CoPilot™

To complete our review of the regulations, we leveraged our previously developed flight deck human factors certification analysis tool, the HFYI Design CoPilot™. The HFYI Design CoPilot™ includes the text of the FAA 14 CFR Part 23 and Part 25 regulations and how they relate to flight deck human factors considerations for displays, controls, systems, equipment, tasks and procedures, and pilot capabilities and limitations. This tool helped provide additional information that we used to identify and gather human factors information related to the regulations applicable to UAS ground station design. This tool also allowed us to view the relationship between the applicable regulations and flight deck human factors considerations and, in turn, to the related FAA guidance material that we had identified.

Looking Ahead

We look forward to continuing on this project this year and as part of our 2013 tasks we plan to:

• Continue our ongoing support of RTCA Subcommittee 203 (SC-203) addressing UAS operations.
• Survey knowledgeable individuals or teams regarding Part 135 certification rules and the history of the development of those rules to determine how Single Pilot Operations were certified in those cases.
• Identify differences meaningful to Single Pilot Operations between Part 135 and Parts 121 and 125 operations.
• Extrapolate from the Part 135 SPO certification history and 3-to-2 crew aircraft certification history to determine what will need to be demonstrated, documented, achieved (as in level of performance, etc.), and documented to certify Single Pilot Operations for Part 23 and 25 aircraft.
• Extrapolate from the Part 135 SPO certification history to determine what will need to be demonstrated, documented, achieved (as in level of performance, etc.), and documented to certify Single Pilot Operations into Part 121 and 125 operations.

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