Fight decks of present-generation commercial aircraft make extensive use of computer-controlled and computer-monitored subsystems. Future generations of flight decks will use even more computerized subsystems, possibly including one or more knowledge-based expert systems (KBES). Under a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company is evaluating concepts for a crew alerting and status information system which incorporates a KBES.
The system being studied, called a flight status monitor (FSM), monitors flight status for system and operational deviations and alerts the crew when necessary, providing guidance for dealing with abnormal situations and providing feedback to the crew about actions it performs or directs. The FSM also presents, at the pilot's request, the status of various aircraft subsystems and normal procedural information. In addition to the elements found in current crew alerting systems, the FSM assumes expanded aircraft sensing, more extensive flight deck subsystem input/output, display of status and procedures information, and interactive control of the FSM by the pilots.
A study sponsored by the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company, called the Pilot Executive (PILEX) project, is being used to develop a KBES that will demonstrate the FSM concept. The knowledge base is being developed with guidance from an experienced pilot and flight deck engineers. The PILEX project uses a standalone system with an LISP-based program for initial demonstration. Later the system will be interfaced with a flight deck simulator so that representative pilot interfaces can be used to evaluate the system during real-time flight scenarios.
This paper presents an overview of the FSM concept and two studies that helped develop and refine it. In developing the FSM concept, a number of issues regarding the feasibility of an airborne KBES were identified. The PILEX project was initiated to define and address some of these issues. The PILEX project's objectives and approach to these issues are presented.
The KBES developed under the PILEX project is based on the fundamental design and logic established by the FSM program. This paper provides a working definition of a KBES, then outlines the development process being conducted by the FSM studies, and finally discusses the PILEX project.