Driving assessment

Aptima Wins Contract with US Air Force for Pilot Evaluation

They are not airplanes. They are not helicopters. What skills will pilots need to fly eVTOLs?

WOBURN, Mass., Aug. 08, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft will soon transform the skies above. But who will pilot these new and innovative vehicles, what skills will they need, and how will they be trained to operate platforms that feature new levels of automation?

To help answer these questions, Aptima, Inc., has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Air Force to help Air Education and Training Command Detachment 62 (Det 62) determine pilot skills and operator training requirements. eVTOL. Det 62 supports the AFWERX Agility Prime program and is responsible for developing the program for eVTOL pilots and driving certification standards for an emerging market that is expected to transform civilian air mobility and select military missions.

Using simulators of various eVTOL prototypes, Aptima will assess and identify the pilot skills needed for effective flight, including how pilots learn and perform on eVTOL platforms that have varying levels of automation. “The learning study will not only help us understand the core pilot skills and competencies needed for effective eVTOL flight, but also the impact of automation on pilot performance,” said Samantha Emerson. , a training, learning and readiness scientist at Aptima, and project manager for the contract. “Experienced and novice pilots will bring unique sets of skills and abilities based on their experiences and abilities. We will assess how these differences affect aircraft performance with different levels of automation.”

EVTOL prototypes range from moderate levels of automation, which still fly like typical aircraft, to higher orders of automation, raising questions about the skills and training needed to fly them.

In more heavily automated platforms, where pilots primarily control flight parameters rather than the aircraft itself, preliminary research suggests that experienced pilots tend to have more difficulty adapting to automation than novice pilots. This is why we will look to see if experienced pilots tend to “overcontrol” the aircraft.

“While a more experienced pilot may possess a greater ability to control aircraft, not all of these skills may be useful or even desired in platforms with more automation and augmentation. In fact, it may require “unlearning” and retraining of behaviors to avoid interference or conflict with automated operations,” Emerson added.

Aptima, a human-machine training and team leader, will help assess how automation affects pilots in different eVTOLs, which existing skills will be transferable, and which new skills will require training.

Application of AFRL technologies to eVTOL training

To assess pilot learning and performance, Aptima will use technologies and techniques it has developed with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) over the past 15 years to measure, analyze, understand and optimize pilot performance. pilots. These include the Pperformance EEvaluation Jit is raining System, or PETS, which collects data from simulators to provide objective system-based metrics, and SPOTLITE, Aptima’s portable tool used by subject matter experts to provide observer-based performance metrics.

“Together, objective simulator measures and subjective measures of what experts recognize as a ‘good flight’ produce a more complete picture of pilot learning and performance.” These results will help Det 62 test and evaluate its eVTOL training hypotheses. The findings could also influence how aircraft manufacturers design platforms in the future, as we discover which aspects of flight benefit most from improved automation.

This work is funded by the U.S. Air Force through the General Services Administration under Solicitation Number 47QFLA22Q0077 / GSA ID # 47QFLA19K0069-0006 entitled “AETC Det 62 eVTOL: Agility Prime Training Assessment Technologies for Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) Vehicles funded by Col Don “Stryker” Haley and Dr. Stephen B. Ellis, whom the authors would like to thank for their support.