The versatility within a transport sector – a personal story

Written by Manuel Roth

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The Center for Aviation is characterized by multidisciplinary research and services within the aviation sector. The versatility of these focal points inspires and shapes my everyday life. But let’s start at the beginning.

As a scientific assistant, I work for the Center’s Human Factors Team in addition to the MetEnviA team. Since I already specialized in this area during my studies and my diploma theses, working in the HF team was an obvious choice. I would like to take you on a little project tour outside of meteorology and the environment.

The focus in the Human Factors team lies primarily on the analysis and quantification of human performance aspects, among others, in the areas of situational awareness, stress and decision making. The team relies on eye tracking and psycho-physiological sensors for skin conductance, EMG, and other parameters.

In my first project, I was privileged to create the national web-based training for unmanned aircraft systems on behalf of FOCA together with two teammates. The creation of the training was bursting with versatility, as we developed a total of around 12 modules covering various topics. Topics varied from the regulatory basics to meteorology to aviation security with drones. The focus was not only on the transfer of knowledge to the target audience, but also on the design of the content.

Figure 1: Extract of the web-based training UAS Gate

In addition to the above-mentioned service tasks, the Human Factors team is also heavily involved in research. In the SESAR project, AI Situational Awareness Foundation for Advancing Automation (AISA), we conducted two simulator measurement campaigns with Skyguide air traffic controllers to evaluate with our measurement equipment and questionnaires whether situational awareness was enhanced with the help of artificial intelligence. Further information and findings of the study can be found on the SoE webpage post.

Figure 2: Setting of the measurement setup during the AISA measurement phase at Skyguide. The pseudo-pilot can be seen in front on the right, while the ATCO next to him manages the en route air traffic.

As it turns out, aviation is a complex environment that is characterized by technology and offers a lot of room for research. While in the HF team I study more the people-related side to analyze the interaction of the operator with the technology, my work in the MetEnviA team focuses more on the technical advancement of the Smartemis measurement system for measuring emissions. Opposites attract, as we all know, and so I appreciate the versatility and the balancing act between the two totally different areas of expertise.

Last but not least, I don’t want to deprive you of my MetEnviA highlight: It was the RAPTOR measurement campaign with international partners in Cardiff in December 2021, which was characterized not only by professional exchange but also by good camaraderie and nice weekend excursions.

Figure 3: Team of the measurement campaign in Cardiff at the Gas Turbine Research Center. Back row from left to right: Manuel Roth, Curdin Spirig and Lukas Durdina (all ZHAW). Front row from left to right: Greg Smallwood (NRC Canada), Elliot Durand (University of Cardiff) and Andreas Crawford (University of Cardiff)
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