Taking a Look at Aviation Operations

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supervisor is an air traffic tower chief or an air traffic tower shift leader overseeing the operations in the tower. As an air traffic controller on position gets their weather information from a computer, a supervisor may notice that the weather report is not consistent with tower visibility and decide to change the weather being reported by the automated system. Another example of a supervisor is a pilot flying and aircraft on autopilot. The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft (FAA, 2014). In the event that an error occurs during autopilot, the pilot is required to take over the controls and fix the problem. Human performance under supervisory control is often poor because of the limited task load placed on operators under normal conditions (Endsley, 1995). Due to reduced control involvement of the pilot, the consequences can be a loss of situational awareness and a decay of direct control skills, which are critical for any midair recovery. Figure 2 below shows how automation can affect situational awareness. Figure 2. Situational Awareness is Reduced (FAA, 2013) Monitors The role of systems monitor is as difficult as the role of supervisor is for humans. The monitor role involves observing and waiting for a critical process event. For a copilot, a critical process could be a fluctuation on the temperature gauge or a spike in pressure. The monitor’s duty is to scan
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