Mental workload in aviation: an investigation of physiological and qualitative assessment methods

Prasetyo, Ridwan Aji Budi (2022) Mental workload in aviation: an investigation of physiological and qualitative assessment methods. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Flying is a safety critical activity in which the ability of the pilot to synthesise multiple sources of information, make decisions and produce appropriate control inputs is critical. Consequently, understanding and managing pilots’ mental workload (MWL) is critical to flying safely and in the design of flight-decks and procedures. Investigation of objective ways to measure MWL is necessary as recent advances in sensing technology offer new opportunities to develop assessment methods that are less intrusive than existing techniques. For example, physiological methods are emerging as options for MWL assessment as they can provide in-situ measurement. These methods have potential advantages in terms of being relatively less intrusive than traditional methods, offering benefits for real workplace settings, including in the cockpit. The research presented in this thesis focuses on the exploration of MWL measurement during a simulated flying task through the investigation of factors influencing MWL during flight and the utility of using more objective methods for evaluating it.

Four studies were conducted. First, acceptance of real-time mental workload monitoring was explored among pilots and passengers using a combination of interviews, surveys and online methods. A Critical Decision Method (CDM) interview was then applied to professional pilots to understand the factors that influence pilots' experiences of high mental workload during a flight. Two connected experiments were undertaken to test the utility of physiological sensors for detecting changes in mental workload during a simulated flying task. Finally, an online experiment was undertaken to evaluate vicarious estimation of workload by human observers based on videos of task performance.

This combination of studies contributes to the understanding of physiological measurements of MWL during a simulated flying task. Firstly, this thesis provides insights about professionals' and public attitude towards MWL sensors technology in the future. Secondly, this thesis offers further understanding of what makes pilots experience high mental workload during landing, and it can be used as the basis for the development of a simulated flying task. Thirdly, this thesis contributes to supporting the spatial resolution of the fNIRS. More specifically, the thesis suggests that the left-side of the prefrontal cortex was activated in response to MWL changes during the simulated flying task. The notion that heart rate measures and pupil dilation can indicate MWL changes were also supported by this study. Finally, this thesis offers an initial understanding that MWL during a simulated flying task cannot be accurately predicted before the task, unless the contrasting elements of the task can be shown.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Houghton, Robert
Argyle, Elizabeth
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
Item ID: 71774
Depositing User: PRASETYO, RIDWAN
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2022 04:40

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