Operator Performance Lab Featured in Houston Television News Report

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Operator Performance Laboratory, a unit of the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design, was featured in a February 17 news report on airline safety on KPRC-TV, Houston, TX.

The report focused on "automation addiction" -- a problem where pilots rely too much on computerized autopilot systems.

NASA is funding a three-year study to examine just how pilots in the cockpit react to all of this automation during long periods of flight.  Tom Schnell, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and director of the Operator Performance Lab, is leading the project that is studying pilots' eye movements across computer screens, their heart rates, brain waves and reaction times over long, boring stretches of flight.

"Sometimes it's difficult now with highly integrated automated systems for the pilot to recognize it's time to take over from the automation and fly the plane manually," said Schnell.

The goal of his project, which is now in its second year, is to eventually better design automation in the cockpit, to make it easier to understand, easier to read, easier to react to.

The full KPRC-TV report can be viewed at http://www.click2houston.com/news/former-flight-attendant-pushes-for-stronger-safety-measures-in-airline-industry/-/1735978/24532580/-/bqmo6e/-/index.html.