The Effect of Automation on the Frequency of Task Prioritization Errors On Commercial aircraft Flight Decks: An ASRS Incident Report Study (1998) - Master's Thesis

Title: The effect of automation on the frequency of task prioritization errors on commercial aircraft flight decks: An ASRS incident report study (1998)
Author(s): Jennifer Wilson and Ken Funk
Abstract: Task Management (TM) refers to the function in which the human operator manages his/her available sensory and mental resources in a dynamic, complex, safety critical environment in order to accomplish the multiple tasks competing for a limited quantity of attention. There is reason to believe that the level of automation on the commercial aircraft flight deck may affect TM, however to date there has been little research that directly addresses this effect. Thus, the primary objective of this study was to begin evaluating the relationship between TM of commercial airline pilots and the level of automation on the flight deck by determining how automation affects the frequency of Task Prioritization errors as reported in Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) incident reports. The secondary objective of this study was to create a methodology that modeled an effective way to use ASRS incident report data in an inferential analysis. Two samples of ASRS incident reports were compared. The first sample was composed of 210 incident reports submitted by pilots flying advanced technology aircraft and the second sample was composed of 210 incident reports submitted by pilots flying traditional technology aircraft. To help avoid confounding effects, the two samples were further divided into three sub-samples each made up of 70 reports submitted during a specified time period: 1988-1989, 1990-1991, and 1992-1993. Each incident report was analyzed using an incident analysis form designed specifically for this study. This form allowed the analyst to classify the incident report as either containing a Task Prioritization error or not based on the narrative of the report. Twenty-eight incident reports from the advanced technology sample and 15 from the traditional technology sample were classified as containing Task Prioritization errors. Using the Chi Square test and a significance level of 0.05, this difference was found to be statistically significant.
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