Mental Workload Measurement in Operational Aircraft Systems: Two Promising Approaches,
MCDONNELL DOUGLAS CORP LONG BEACH CA
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Mental workload MWL is becoming a useful construct for the design of complex man-machine systems because it provides a framework to include many elements of human behaviour which are not directly observable but are vitally important in determining the safety and overall cost of the system. The non-observable aspects of a persons work include items such as remembering, interpreting, decision making and coordinating actions. In the context of highly-automated aircraft, this framework enables the manufacturer to reduce the risk of crew error and improve overall mission reliability by examining the information processing requirements of the crew tto evaluate if they can perform the tasks required of them in the time available, given a clearly defined set of equipment, procedures, and operating environment. There is a variety of techniques which have been considered as measures of MWL in aircraft systems. They may be useful supplements to existing workload measures, like task-analysis which quantifies behavioural activity, when a job involves very little action but high degrees of mental activity. Although we have employed task-analytic workload measures for many years, implementation of MWL measures in the validation of new aircraft designs has been delayed for at least three reasons. First, the requirement to systematically measure MWL has only gained acceptance in the aviation community in the last five to ten years. With higher levels of automation, the problems of overload and underload have received more serious attention by pilots, manufacturers, and regulatory agencies.
- Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems