Shuttle to Mars: Training airline pilots for critical situations - Matching pilot tasks and working conditions with space game events for developing pilot competencies

Esther Kuindersma, Jelke van der Pal, H.Jaap Van den Herik and Aske Plaat

Extended Abstract

Airline pilots are well trained professionals. They operate in increasingly automated environments. With the high levels of automation pilots spend less time handling the aircraft manually and more time managing and monitoring all automated processes. When critical situations occur, pilots need to jump into action. Specific cognitive competencies are needed to move from the monitoring state into an active state. These competencies need to be trained. In aviation the use of training simulators with a high fidelity is common. As they are expensive to use and availability is limited, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre NLR is investigating to what extent serious games can be used for training purposes.

This poster presents the approach taken (1) to identify the essential higher-order competencies and (2) to translate the pilot tasks and working conditions into engaging game events. The game events should be suitable (a) for assessment of the behavioural indicators of the competencies and (b) for the measurement of the learning progress.

We present five essential cognitive competencies, for which we have matched associated tasks and working conditions with game events. A series of game scenarios (“missions”) has been developed in which the events are triggered, either in isolation or combined with one or more other events. So we create challenging game situations that require the players to demonstrate their mastery of the competencies.

Our developed game is called ‘Shuttle to Mars: interplanetary logistics’. It is a single player first person space game to be played on tablet devices. The player takes the role of a space courier, who has to go on several missions to deliver his cargo. To succeed the courier and his crew must handle all kinds of critical situations. We have selected a game setting that is different from an airline pilot's daily setting to stimulate far transfer of learning. Far transfer means that the acquired competencies can be applied in several contexts that may seem remote and alien to one another.

To achieve the intended learning effect (far transfer) our research will focus on the playability of the ‘Shuttle to Mars’ game and the effective measurement of the competencies. We will also study potential interference issues when competencies are being performed and assessed simultaneously.