The Invisible Referee

21st Century Traffic Control: The Invisible Referee University of Southampton


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All Condition Operations and Innovative Cockpit Infrastructure

Has your flight ever been delayed due to poor weather?

It has been estimated that 16800 airline flights were cancelled in 2007 in Europe due to low visibility conditions, and in some major airports almost 50% of arrival delays are due to low cloud and poor visibility.

In the ALICIA project funded by the EU, Professor Neville Stanton and his researchers are working with 41 European partners (see Picture 3) to develop the aircraft technology and tasks necessary to reduce delays in Europe associated with poor weather by at least 20%. Examples include head-up displays that will allow pilots to see through fog and low clouds so that they can land aircraft as normal. It is anticipated that this project will provide very significant economic advantages to airlines as well as welcome benefits to the European traveller. Picture 2 represents the ALICIA concept.

Further information is provided below.

ALICIA Background

ALICIA is a four year research and development project funded by the European Commission which started in September 2009 (Picture 4 is the ALICIA launch team).

The rationale for ALICIA is borne of the certainty that within the next 15 years the current flight-deck design will reach its limits due to the introduction of new concepts.

ALICIA will provide the European aerospace industry with an improved capability to develop new flight-decks that embrace the principles of increased commonality across multiple aircraft types; ALICIA defines this as the “Common Cockpit Concept”. Pictures 11 shows the current flight deck design and picture 12 provides an example of what a future flight deck may look like.

Additionally, the flight-deck solutions (for examples see Pictures 9, 10 & 12) will improve mission efficiency that will enable worldwide operations in all weather conditions; ALICIA defines this as “All Condition Operations”.

The utility and scalability of the new concept will be demonstrated using fixed wing (aeroplanes) and rotary wing (helicopters) simulators. The new cockpit infrastructure will be capable of delivering enhanced situation awareness to the crew whilst simultaneously reducing crew workload and improving overall aircraft safety.

ALICIA Objectives

Vision 2020 proposes an Air Traffic Management system that can cope with three times more aircraft than today, as such ALICIA addresses the objective of increasing time efficiency within the future air transport system. The future includes:

  • Aircraft will be able to fly in all weather
  • Fly closer together will less risk
  • Run to schedule 99% of the time
  • The two key ALICIA objectives are as follows:

    Objective 1: Development of an All Condition Operations (ACO) capability to reduce weather-related delays by 20% (Picture 5 and 6)

    Objective 2: Development of a new cockpit architecture facilitating the introduction of new technologies and applications (Picture 7 and 12)

    ALICIA Key Innovations

    The key opportunities identified as candidate flight-deck innovations include:

  • Enhanced vision system and synthetic imagery (Picture 9 and 10)
  • Holistic approach to HMI design and integration (Picture 12)
  • Integration with the future airspace infrastructure
  • Enhanced use of synthetic environments to support concept validation and product certification
  • Novel display, control and audio concepts, e.g. head mounted displays, direct voice input, audio environment including 3D audio, large area/high resolution displays (Pictures 9, 10 and 12)
  • ALICIA Partners

    42 European partners are involved in ALICIA. Key countries include: United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Turkey and Russia (see partner map, picture 3).

    University of Southampton’s Role

    The University of Southampton is involved at various stages of the project. In Year 1 an analysis of the AW101 cockpit was undertaken using the Human Factors method of Cognitive Work Analysis. This allowed the demands and constraints of normal and non-normal operations to be modeled. The analysis resulted in new design proposals for a head up display that can assist with approach and landing in degraded visual environments and integrated situation awareness displays in the main instrument panel. In Year 2 these proposals will be evaluated in the aircraft simulator located at Southampton University (Picture 8) and through a variety of desktop based methods. Southampton will also play a key role in assisting other partners with the Human Factor (for example, workload, usability, situation awareness, comfort) evaluation of their concepts. This evaluation role will continue as the project evolves into Year 3 and 4 as the new flight deck concepts are tested and refined.

    ALICIA website

    The ALICIA project website ( Additional contact details can be found here.

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