Aircraft Certification Job Aid for Flight Deck Human Factors
Most airplane certification projects for components of the airplane flight deck involve many decisions that are related to human factors principles. The FAA would like to have human factors considerations addressed as effectively and thoroughly as other considerations when making certification decisions. In addition, they would like to provide the resources for certification team members at all stages of the certification process to identify and possibly resolve any human factors issues. There are Human Factors Specialists who are available to help with projects, but their workload precludes their availability for all day-to-day considerations within a project.
There are many unique challenges that arise when reviewing designs for human factors considerations in a regulatory environment. One of the primary challenges is to know which human factors considerations should be addressed for any particular review or certification project. We have developed a decision-support tool for the FAA to meet these challenges. It is called the FAA Certification Job Aid for Flight Deck Human Factors (Job Aid for short).
Approach and Solution
The Job Aid is designed to provide quick and easy access to regulatory and human factors information that may be used by certification personnel for identifying and addressing human factors considerations for flight deck design. The current version of the Job Aid provides information addressing all human factors considerations related to the design of displays, controls, and systems in the flight deck for large transport category aircraft. The set of human factors considerations provides a comprehensive way to address human factors in any certification project.
In developing the Job Aid, the certification personnel were interviewed and observed to determine what their typical approach would be to acquire information that addresses human factors considerations for flight deck component design. It was determined that these personnel typically searched for information related to certification design issues through one of three methods:
- Reviewing related FAA regulations and guidance material,
- Researching information related to a specific component (control, display, system, or equipment), and/or
- Researching a specific human factors topic, such as clutter or the use of color coding.
The Job Aid has been structured to allow the certification team members to access information from any one of these three paths. When the user selects a particular regulatory or guidance document, component, or human factors topic they will be provided with a list of related human factors considerations. This list of human factors considerations provides a systematic method of evaluating design and can serve as a general checklist during a certification tasks.
Separate sets of human factors considerations have been developed related to display design, control design, and system design. The human factors considerations address the design issues of the component in isolation as well as design issues related to the integration of this component within the full flight deck environment. The tool provides summaries of regulatory and guidance material as well as human factors research literature for each human factors consideration.
The key to the effectiveness of the Job Aid is that it links the important aspects of HF design review under the responsibility of the agency. With this approach the Job Aid can be used by all agency team members to identify human factors considerations even if they only review small elements of a design.
Evaluation of the Job Aid has shown that the human factors considerations are understandable and usable by engineers and other certification team members who have had little or no training in the science of human factors. The Job Aid has helped educate certification personnel that do not have human factors expertise and has allowed them to more effectively communicate with the Human Factors Specialists within the FAA.
The Job Aid included information related to human factors considerations for the certification of display, controls, equipment, systems, tasks and procedures, and testing assumptions. It was originally deployed throughout the FAA as a stand-alone Windows application (see screenshot below). The Job Aid has since evolved and expanded into a web application called the HFYI Design CoPilot and is now available by subscription to the public.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Oregon State University (OSU) and User Interaction Research and Design, Inc.