An Interactive Fuel-Altitude-Time Pattern Display for Air Vehicle Replanning

Young, D., Voshell, M., Kane, S., Kilgore, R., and Hogan, C.

Presented at the International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE), Las Vegas, NV (July 2015).

Air vehicle pilots and operators must frequently replan vehicle routes in response to dynamic mission needs and changing characteristics of the environment. These activities place a high cognitive load on operators’ limited attentional resources and demand fluent re-orientation of attentional focus across the changing operational space. To effectively replan vehicle routes, pilots and operators must integrate low-level platform information, specifically fuel and altitude, and determine negative side-effects and high-level mission impact. This is made even more difficult given current decision aids. Operators typically must reference disparate analog charts to accurately calculate fuel burn using parameters such as air speed, distance, altitude, and mission duration to evaluate mission impacts. This not only is burdensome, but is also error prone. This method requires a high workload and significant amount of time to fully evaluate available options and the overall decision space, leaving operators to select a satisfactory option quickly as opposed to evaluating a large set of options.

To address this issue, we have designed and prototyped a dynamically configurable fuel-altitude-time pattern display to support operators during frequent replanning events. This display presents a visual solution for rapidly evaluating high-level options and resultant impacts based on low-level platform parameters in real-time. Parameters such as fuel load, air speed, distance, altitude and mission duration are available for refinement and recalculated based on input from the operator. Alerts are presented visually and in context with higher-level mission properties to provide the air vehicle operator insight as to key thresholds. We expect that the use of this decision-support display will reduce the cognitive workload and improve attentional focus of air vehicle operators in changing situations, leading to better responses for replanning events.

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