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Enhancing manual flight precision and reducing pilot workload using a new manual control augmentation system for energy angle

Schreiter, Karolin; Müller, Simon; Luckner, Robert; Manzey, Dietrich

With rising demands on flight precision and more complex flight trajectories, pilots' workload during manual flight is increasing. This is especially the case for thrust and spoiler control during approach and landing. The presented nxControl system enables pilots to manually control the longitudinal load factor nx instead of engine parameters and spoiler deflections. This load factor is equivalent to total energy angle and is directly influenced by engine thrust and aerodynamic drag. The nxController complements existing control augmentation systems such as the fly-by-wire control laws of today's commercial airliners. It aims at higher precision with lower workload during manual flight. The controller input can be set and monitored by an adapted human-machine interface consisting of a thrust-lever-like inceptor and additional display elements to enhance energy awareness. This paper presents the nxControl system with focus on the command control system and an evaluation study with 24 airline pilots in a research flight simulator. The task was a demanding and steep approach with required navigation performance RNP 0.1 in a mountainous area. The results show higher precision and lower workload with the nxControl system despite minimal amount of training.
Published in: AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference. AIAA SciTech Forum, 10.2514/6.2017-1026, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics