Nadine Sarter, Richard W. Pew Collegiate Professor in U-M Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE), and director of the U-M Center for Ergonomics, has received funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for research on the role flights crews play in aviation safety. Sarter is serving as principal investigator on the project and is assisted by U-M IOE PhD student, Karanvir Panesar.
Traditionally, the majority of aviation accidents have been blamed on pilot error. This project instead focuses on understanding the contributions of individual pilots and flight crews to aviation safety.
“Understanding and assessing these contributions is critical for determining appropriate crew complements and required supporting technologies,” said Sarter. “To this end, the research will examine the role of pilots in risk mitigation, both during routine day-to-day operations and in the context of mishaps.”
Unique human capabilities and the margin of safety provided by a second crew member will be considered. The hope is that the research will highlight possible ways to improve human abilities and performance through technology and specific skills training.
“I am thrilled to receive this funding as it allows me to do something I have advocated for a long time, namely highlighting the positive role humans play in preventing mishaps and preventing incidents from turning into accidents,” she said. “This human-centered perspective is critical in a range of application domains where increasingly complex and autonomous systems are being introduced.”
Nadine Sarter joined U-M IOE in 2004 and became director of the Center for Ergonomics in 2015. Her research interests include human-automation/robot interaction, human error/error management, attention/interruption management, and the design of decision support systems. In addition to aviation, her research is conducted in military operations and the modern car cockpit.
Karanvir Panesar, under the guidance of Sarter, is studying how frequent interruptions affect the performance of operators controlling autonomous vehicles and develop guidance for the design of interfaces that support the integration of a large number of sometimes nested interruptions.