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Human Factors Research on Instrument Procedures for FAA's NextGen Office


TThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s NextGen Human Factors Division (ANG-C1)

Project Highlights

  • Define human factors research needs for performance-based navigation (PBN) instrument procedures that enable and support NextGen
  • Conduct human factors research to improve the design and depiction of instrument procedures for PBN
  • Support development of FAA guidelines and standards to ensure safety and efficiency of flight operations

Project Point of Contact

Divya Chandra, Ph.D.
Principal Technical Advisor

Project Overview

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are transitioning to performance based navigation (PBN). PBN instrument procedures based on area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP) offer significant safety improvements along with new levels of flexibility to negotiate terrain, airspace, and environmental considerations. There are human factors issues associated with the design, depiction, and implementation of these new procedures because they can result in paths that are complex to fly and typically require the assistance of automated flight-path management systems to negotiate precise speed, altitude, and lateral path constraints.

Volpe is conducting and coordinating several human factors research projects to evaluate instrument procedure design and depiction on paper and electronic formats. We are currently conducting a study on subjective factors that affect procedure complexity from a pilots' perspective. Results will inform designers of subjective factors that should be considered in the design of the instrument procedure. Previously, we examined the pilot's ability to find data from aeronautical charts, which can be complex and visually dense.

The research will result in recommendations for procedure and chart design to ensure that new instrument procedures are usable by appropriately qualified pilots. This effort supports the FAA's transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) through improved design and depiction of RNAV and RNP procedures.

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Updated: Monday, October 30, 2017