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Daytona Beach


Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology

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In 2002 the FAA, academic and industry partners established the FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS) program whose purpose is to modernize General Aviation (GA) pilot training. The FAA recognized the need to modernize training standards for pilots who would use new avionics technology that integrate the GPS (Global Positioning Systems) with the autopilot along with multifunction displays capable of depicting flight path, weather, terrain and traffic information. These avionics and displays are touted as improving safety by enhancing pilot Situational Awareness and reducing pilot workload. The new technology has highlighted the need for programs to train and certify pilots to use the avionics suites. The instrumentation places new demands on pilots including changes in the level and distribution of pilot workload during a flight, the need to manage and integrate information from multiple displays, navigate complex menu structures, and program navigation computers. The literature describing the FITS program argues that the current structure and content of GA pilot training programs will not adequately prepare pilots for the challenges of using these technologies (FAA, 2003a; Glista, 2003b; Wright, 2002). The FITS curriculum attempts to address these issues by stressing training of risk management (RM), situational awareness (SA), aeronautical decision making (ADM) and single-pilot resource management (SRM). It also proposes to change pilot instruction to make it more relevant to real world flying by relying on scenario-based training (SBT). FITS proposes to emphasize the use of scenarios as a means to practice the integration of individual skills as they might occur in the real world. For instance, a student pilot might be instructed to plan a flight from Wichita, KS to Kansas City, MO. The student would perform all the tasks necessary to plan the flight including preflight checks, route planning, checking the weather reroute etc. During the flight the student would demonstrate individual flight skills including turns, climbs, navigation, and communication while executing the scenario. The purpose of this project was to review research related to the proposed initiatives and to identify future research needs to support the long-term objectives of FITS. In addition to reviewing pertinent academic and government literature, the objectives of FITS were reviewed with representatives of the FAA, academic and industry partners. At present FITS materials provide few details regarding important components of the training initiative including decision making, the training requirements of advanced avionics technology and its effects on situation awareness. Future work should draw on an extensive academic literature and on lessons learned from prior industry experience when similar avionics technologies were introduced to commercial aviation. Also, clear distinctions should be made between SBT as employed in FITS and SBT used by the military and in commercial aviation. These are very different programs.


Washington, DC

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Dr. Chaparro was not affiliated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the time this report was published.