Fighter pilots operate high-performing powerful aircraft, equipped with complex sensor systems, in a dynamic and hostile environment. The pilots need to have control over their own aircraft as well as the developing situation surrounding them. Moreover, the fighter pilot rarely is on a mission by himself, but collaborates with teammates to achieve the goals jointly. This collaboration between fighter aircraft cannot take place without technology in the form of a tactical support system (TSS) that aids the pilots with information retrieval and decision-making. A TSS in a fighter aircraft fuses data from different sources and organizes the information in order to assist the pilot in building situation awareness and support in the decision-making during missions. The capabilities of the aircraft and its sensors, as well as the design of the TSS will directly affect how the pilots can perform the missions. The technology and the design at the same time enable and constrain the possible acting space, such that the tactics and plans for the missions will be a consequence of these factors. Hence, the design and development of such a complex system requires deep knowledge about the users and understanding of how they will operate the system. High usability is among the requirements for such a specialized and advanced system as the TSS, and in order to achieve this there is a need to understand the circumstances the system will be used in. Due to the complex nature of the military operations and the difficulties to access the domain for others than pilots, it is challenging for designers of the TSSs to obtain this needed knowledge. Therefore, this thesis aims at investigating the nature of the operations, as well as the practice of user participation in the domain, in order to increase the designers’ knowledge and give guidance to how users should participate in the development of the systems.
Several methods that aim to design efficient and usable systems are available. User-centered design is a holistic philosophy that prescribes that the interests and needs of the users should be in focus through the whole development process in order to achieve better systems. At the core of user-centered design is to increase the knowledge about the users and their needs. This thesis applies two perspectives, which both contributes to fulfill the goal of user-centered design of the TSSs by obtaining more knowledge about the users. The two perspectives are: a better understanding of how the users/pilots utilize the TSS to perform teamwork during missions, and an insight into how the users/pilots participate during the development process of the TSSs.
The teamwork perspective is motivated by the fact that fighter pilots perform a majority of their missions collaborating in teams. Their teamwork is depending on technology since the pilots are separated from each other in their fighter airplanes. Understanding this teamwork is hence a key to understanding the users in this domain. This thesis investigates the nature of teamwork between fighter pilots based on a theoretical teamwork model, the “Big Five” of effective teamwork proposed by Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005). The “Big Five” model contains eight elements that Salas et al. identified as necessary for effective teamwork: adaptability, backup behavior, closed-loop communication, shared mental models, mutual performance monitoring, team orientation, mutual trust, and team leadership. The user-participation perspective is based on the notion that involving the users in different stages through the development process will benefit the results. However, user participation can take many different forms. The users can have different roles during the process, and the impact their opinions will have on the product can vary. This thesis investigates user participation and the roles the users, i.e. pilots, have in the development process of fighter aircraft of TSSs and cockpit interfaces.
These two perspectives are each assigned an aim in the investigation. For the first aim, Increase the knowledge about how fighter pilots collaborate in teams during missions with the current systems, ten fighter pilots were interviewed about their views on teamwork. The teamwork elements of the “Big Five” model are explored and described for the military fighter context. With this knowledge, a task performance cycle is proposed which shows were in the cycle of a mission each teamwork element is most important. Finally, a modified teamwork model adapted for mission performance for fighter pilots is suggested.
For the second aim, Increase the knowledge about how pilots can and should participate in the design process of fighter aircraft interfaces, a study on how pilots participate in the design work of cockpit interfaces is conducted. The inquiry is based on a questionnaire, which was distributed to designers of fighter cockpit interfaces. The results indicate that the designers think the pilots have and should have many different roles in the design process. The designers wish to be able to observe pilots at work to a greater extent and to obtain more information and ideas from them. They also think that pilots should be more involved as examiners and testers. However, pilots should not be designers or decision-makers regarding design, according to the majority of respondents.
The presented contributions of the team-related research in this thesis are a deeper understanding and rich descriptions of how fighter pilots perform missions from a teamwork perspective. The teamwork elements are examined, and their relations and their importance during mission performance are described. For example, it was found that the abilities to monitor each other, to adapt, and to communicate were the most important factors for effective teamwork during a mission. For the investigation of how designers of pilot interfaces work with user representatives in the design process, the contribution is a description of the different roles the users can have during the development process in this domain. The results are primarily intended to inform designers of tactical support systems and cockpit interfaces. However, other domains where team members are distributed, and are highly dependent on technology for their teamwork, should benefit from the findings.
Skövde: Högskolan i Skövde , 2016. , 58 p.
Riveiro, Maria, DocentFalkman, Göran, Bitr. ProfessorAlfredson, Jens, PhD