National Academies Press: OpenBook

Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors (2022)

Chapter: Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
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Page 46
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
×
Page 46
Page 47
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
×
Page 47
Page 48
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
×
Page 48
Page 49
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
×
Page 49
Page 50
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26779.
×
Page 50

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44 Advanced technologies to improve the safety of airport operations continue to be developed, tested, and implemented; some of these are aimed at improving runway safety by preventing runway incursions. These advanced systems, sponsored by and developed for the FAA, are solu- tions that are integrated into airport infrastructure and processes to provide information to key stakeholders and often provide visual signals to those operating on the surface of the airfield. Systems such as Runway Status Lights (RWSL), Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model 3 (ASDE-3), Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X), and the Airport Move- ment Area Safety System (AMASS) are examples of technologies developed and deployed to support airport vehicle Runway Incursion Warning Systems (RIWSs). These are complex systems that require significant capital investment. Thus, such technologies designed to mitigate V/PD risks are limited in their deployment and are primarily used at large, complex airports. Such systems are mainly designed to assist pilots and air traffic controllers; they provide a benefit to airports and airside drivers but are not their focus. Since the primary causes under lying V/PDs are decision errors, what technologies outside of such federally developed and funded programs can airport leaders put into practice to reduce decision errors? What effective solutions within the budgetary con- straints of small airports can be used to reduce human factors risks in the airside environment? This chapter explores available technologies with an eye toward solutions usable by the indi- vidual who works or drives on the airfield. The solutions fall into four categories, each of which addresses mitigating the human errors discussed in earlier chapters: • Communications improvement technologies, • Mobile and vehicle technologies, • Fatigue and personal monitoring technologies, and • Training improvement technologies. The solutions in each of these categories can help improve the skills, knowledge, and situ- ational and personal awareness of those operating in the dynamic environment of an airport. The information is presented in a general manner to avoid recommending specific products or manufacturers. Examples of the types of technology solutions discussed are easily found by searching the Internet. When considering mobile and other technological solutions, it is important to take into account the viability and feasibility of implementing them. At times, a technology solution may appear to offer a viable approach to reducing human factors risks and V/PDs, but implementing C H A P T E R   7 Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making Technology solutions that fall under four categories can address the human factors risks relevant to the individual driver or airside operator. The solutions in each of these categories can help improve the skills, knowledge, and situational and personal awareness of those operating in the dynamic environment of an airport.

Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making 45   advanced technologies may be cost prohibitive. The spectrum of solutions reviewed for this report included those on an individual level, such as through use of a tablet or smartphone, to vast system solutions such as RWSL, ASDE-3, ASDE-X, and AMASS. Between these indi- vidual and system-wide solutions, there exist mid-tier technological solutions. For airports willing to make greater investment than the more individualized solutions discussed, more advanced technologies such as heads-up displays for airside vehicles or thermal technologies to improve nighttime SA could be viable options; however, the costs associated with the installation and maintenance of these technologies across a fleet of several vehicle types may be impractical for small to medium-sized airports. Similarly, while some airports may be able to hire additional staff with expertise in human factors issues to monitor employees, this may not be feasible for many airports due to budget constraints, privacy concerns, or labor agreements. 7.1 Communications Improvement Technologies Ensuring that communications between airside drivers and the ATC tower are clearly under- stood is important to reducing and eliminating V/PDs. The analysis of the FAA V/PD database (Chapter 3) using the HFACS taxonomy found that the number of events where communica- tions were a second-level contributing factor to a decision error were nearly twice those of any other factor. Two types of technology solutions could aid airports in the improvement of communications: • Solutions to improve the clarity of radio communications • Solutions to improve radio operator skills and confidence Technologies in these categories are available and can be cost-effective for any size airport. 7.1.1 Noise-Canceling and Attenuating Headsets The noise generated by aircraft, vehicles, and other equipment used on the airfield can make radio communications difficult if not impossible at times. For those driving in an airport operations department vehicle with a single radio to monitor, windows up, and air condition- ing on, clear communications may be easier to achieve. For an employee of a fixed-base operator (FBO) towing an aircraft using an open-air tractor with a hand-held radio to contact the tower at a busy general aviation airport, or for a snowplow driver monitoring two frequencies while clearing a primary runway during a high-wind snowstorm, hearing important radio calls clearly can be a significant challenge. Radio headsets that serve as hearing protection and incorporate noise-cancellation technologies are available in a price range from about $100 to $650 per unit, depending on the technology and features. A search of the Internet for noise-canceling headsets will turn up several options. 7.1.2 Radio Practice Technologies Proficiency and confidence in communicating via radio comes with practice and time oper- ating on the airfield. Not all drivers authorized to drive in the movement areas do so on a daily or even weekly basis. For new drivers or drivers who do not operate on the airport frequently, airports may find significant value in developing a program to practice radio communications in order to maintain communications skills and build trust in an individual’s ability to commu- nicate effectively.

46 Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors 7.1.2.1 Radio Receivers to Monitor ATC Radio Communications One readily available option to improve the understanding of radio communications and aviation terminology is to listen to others communicating on the radio. Having a radio receiver capable of monitoring the ground control frequency or ramp tower frequencies readily available in a space where qualified drivers take care of paperwork or take breaks provides a means to not only listen to others communicating on the radio but also helps the driver in the creation of a mental picture of what is going on around the airport—in other words, exercising the skills that build SA. 7.1.2.2 Live ATC Radio Apps There are mobile apps available for all operating systems that allow a person to listen to ATC communications at a variety of airports across the country. Ideally, drivers would be able to listen to local ATC communications on their mobile devices, but even listening to radio calls at other airports can benefit the driver. Some of the ATC radio apps are available for free but have limited options in what broadcasts are monitored. Others with additional capabilities are available via subscription. 7.1.2.3 Radio Training Apps Another option is to subscribe to radio training apps that can be installed on mobile devices. These apps provide the ability for an employee to practice in an interactive manner in simula- tion. The apps present simulated radio calls to which the user must respond; the responses are evaluated by the program’s software. While the target users for these apps are pilots in training, such training applications still expose the user to aviation terminology and a means to practice speaking in a simulated environment. Radio training apps are available via subscription at around $10 per month. Some of the services offer the ability to build a customized lesson plan for an additional investment. A plan aimed at driver training could be developed for specific airports. 7.2 Mobile and Vehicle Technologies Mobile and vehicle technologies are software solutions that provide information to drivers and airport managers as to the position and status of vehicles, equipment, and, in some cases, aircraft operating on the airport. These technologies can reside on laptop computers or tablets and be carried inside the cab of an airport vehicle. These products can provide the driver with a picture of ground activity as well as visual and audible warnings. Vehicle technologies are those used to track and monitor vehicles on the airport. They are generally in the form of a telematics solution that is plugged into the vehicle through the electronic interface integrated into most vehicles, tracks the vehicle via GPS, and reports data on the vehicle status and position to a central location. 7.2.1 Mobile Technologies – Integrated and Personal Mobile technologies used to enhance the SA of the driver are typically resident on small computer devices and use a web-based application. Electronic flight bags (EFBs) are mobile technologies used by pilots in place of paper charts and checklists; these also provide navigation information during flight. Some of the mobile solutions show taxi diagrams and display the pilot’s position on the airport. Such solutions may be readily adaptable to airside driving. A number of companies market software for EFBs. During an interview with representatives of one of the companies, they stated that while they currently do not sell an airport driver-specific

Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making 47   solution, such a product could easily be developed. Such a product could provide a live moving map of the airport environment, providing operators a greater awareness of their surroundings. 7.2.2 Vehicle Technologies – Fleet Management Solutions There are other mobile technologies that are vehicle mounted and provide information to both the driver and a central fleet management location. These technologies can operate as part of a total system architecture that provides location information not only to the operator but to ATC, giving them a better overall awareness of what is happening in the airside environment. Many telematics solutions offer the ability to set geofences, or electronic boundaries, to restrict access to specified areas and send an alert when they are entered. Such geofencing solutions pro- vide notification when the vehicle is approaching an unauthorized area or an area that requires clearance prior to entering, such as a taxiway, runway, or runway safety area. 7.2.3 How Mobile and Vehicle Technologies Mitigate Incursions and Improve SA These technologies can assist in reducing runway incursions and improve SA, starting at the employee level by providing moving maps that display the location of aircraft and other equipment, providing visual and audible warnings to alert vehicle operators when they are nearing or entering an area that has been restricted or requires clearance prior to entry. These systems also provide access management tools that can place and remove restricted areas on the system by adding or enabling geofences. Geofences help to control access and provide notification to the operator when a restricted area has been entered. 7.2.4 Limitations and Potential Issues of Mobile Technologies Even though technologies may raise SA, they can also reduce SA by creating an environment where there are too many distractions inside the vehicle, or simply by creating technology over- burden (i.e., so much technology that it is not used at all or not used properly), thus negating the benefits. In an interview, operations personnel at DTW indicated that individual drivers are experi- menting with techniques that can make multiple technologies SA enhancing rather than dis- tracting. They have not yet established standard techniques or integrated the practices into their driver training program. Connectivity may be an issue for solutions that rely on Wi-Fi and cellular data for updates and position reports. Airports may have areas where there is limited or no cellular data coverage, rendering the system inadequate for the designed purpose and requiring additional changes to the information technology infrastructure of the airport. 7.3 Fatigue and Personal Monitoring Technologies Personal monitoring technologies for fatigue are generally wearable products related to the monitoring of fatigue and sleep, as well as other personal health measurements. Some of these wearable technologies can provide an intervention signal or alert prior to a driver-related fatigue event. The most applicable technologies for reducing decision errors are those that heighten awareness or alert the individual to the impacts of fatigue. Two categories of personal technologies to consider are active fatigue monitoring and passive sleep tracking. Active fatigue monitoring systems collect biometric data and use algorithms

48 Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors to detect fatigued operators, providing an alarm that is either visual, audible, vibratory, or a combination of these. These types of technologies have been in use in the trucking and mining industries for several years and have helped reduce the number of fatigue-related incidents in the organizations that employ them. Passive sleep-tracking technologies collect data on sleeping habits and provide feedback to users so they might better manage their sleep patterns. They can also provide sleep data to company management (with privacy considerations kept in mind) for the purpose of monitoring worker fatigue and intervening before a fatigue-related incident occurs. Other technologies are dash-mounted camera systems that detect driver fatigue and provide a notification to the driver, and instruments worn on the wrist (like a watch) or on the finger (like a ring). 7.3.1 How the Fatigue Monitoring Technologies Mitigate Incursions and Improve SA Active fatigue technologies provide notification or an alarm to the user when certain triggers are met, allowing the user to take active steps to avoid a fatigue-related event, thereby reducing fatigue-related risk. Passive technologies enable workers to track, monitor, and modify sleep habits, as well as allow management to anticipate periods of fatigue prior to them occurring. The solutions provide means and data to modify schedules according to sleep patterns, creating a proactive fatigue- management environment. Such monitoring systems can also help identify sleep disorders, thus serving as an overall health issue mitigation tool. The costs for fatigue monitoring solutions can range from free applications that can be uploaded to personal or mobile devices, to advanced solutions that can run approximately $500 or more for an annual subscription that includes one or more wearable devices and the supporting software. In all cases, the ability and required permissions to collect data on employees must be explored to ensure that any conflicts with existing law or union agreements can be resolved. 7.3.2 Limitations and Potential Issues As with any device that relies on human interaction, personal technologies are only useful if employees use them, which means there has to be employee buy in. There are technological drawbacks in some cases as well, such as a false positive that may indicate users are fatigued when they are not. There are also potential privacy issues. In some cases, privacy concerns by the employees may create resistance to use of such technologies. Airports can conduct pilot programs with volunteers to explore the benefits and challenges of a system that collects data on employees. 7.4 Training Improvement Technologies Technology solutions are available to enhance airside driver training through simulation. Driving simulators can be full-sized (used at several large airports) or smaller simulations that run on a personal computer. A recent entry into the simulation catalogue is virtual reality (VR) training solutions that take advantage of the advances in computer gaming technolo- gies. Two types of simulation training are discussed in this section: full-sized simulators and VR simulators.

Technology Solutions for Enhanced Decision Making 49   7.4.1 Full-Sized Driving Simulators Full-sized simulators are those in which the person training sits in a seat and controls the simulation with controls that are similar to those in the vehicle itself. As an example, MSP uses a full-sized simulator for airside driver training. Its simulator setup is shown in Figure 7-1. The driver sits in a chair and has access to accelerator and brake pedals, along with a steering wheel to control the simulation. Training simulators of this type can cost $100,000 or more, depending on the configuration and simulated functions desired. They are ideal for large airports with complex layouts where actual training in vehicles on the airfield might be difficult to manage due to the tempo of flight operations. For smaller airports, such a solution might not be cost-effective. 7.4.2 Virtual Reality Training Solutions VR training solutions are available and can be customized to the needs of the airport. These solutions take advantage of technologies used and made popular by computer games. In the aviation industry, a number of VR simulations are designed and in use by airlines such as American Airlines, Lufthansa, and Japan Airlines. These simulators are developed to train airside personnel in specific tasks, such as aircraft fueling, aircraft maintenance, cabin procedures, and aircraft pushbacks. Such VR solutions could be developed to provide similar training experiences as those in full-sized simulators, minus the manipulation of foot pedals and steering wheels. These VR simulators could be placed in most any room at the airport and require a VR headset and a computer system to run the software (similar to that depicted in Figure 7-2). They provide a compact, portable solution that may be more practical for smaller airports. One VR simulation company representative stated during a telephone interview that creating a VR solution that incorporates the local airport layout would cost in the neighborhood of $5,000 for the initial setup. The follow-on costs would vary depending on the airport’s preference for a hosted subscription service or a license for the software to reside on a select number of computers at the airport. Source: © 2021 Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport. Figure 7-1. Airside driving simulator setup at MSP.

50 Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors Source: © 2020 AVIAR B.V. Figure 7-2. VR driver training solution.

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Despite dedicated efforts involving changes in technologies and procedures, the number of annual runway incursions in the United States has shown little to no improvement.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Research Report 246: Airside Operations Safety: Understanding the Effects of Human Factors provides a review of the current state of human factors research and the related resources that are available to U.S. airport operations personnel.

Supplemental to the report are an Executive Summary (to be released soon) and a White Paper.

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