Electronic Checklist

Prototype Electronic Checklist

Covell Avionics
Human-Centered Aircraft Systems

Shakib Shakeri <shakeris@ucs.orst.edu>

Amanda Sigworth <SIGAK197@bus.orst.edu>

Troy McNeil <MCNTG176@bus.orst.edu>

Roberto Nicolalde <robertonicolalde@hotmail.com>

Doug Scheve <scheve@engr.orst.edu>

Ken Funk <funkk@engr.orst.edu>

17 March 2000

This page is under construction!


Contents


Introduction

Due to the limited time available in an academic quarter (less than three months), it was not possible to develop complete, detailed design specifications for the Electronic Checklist. Rather, the design evolved from the preliminary design ideas to the final, working virtual prototype and mockup. This page presents physical specifications for the Electronic Checklist, describes the implementation and functions of the prototype, and provides a downloadable version of the prototype, implemented in Microsoft Access.


Physical Specifications

The Electronic Checklist, illustrated below, is a stand-alone device that may be used hand-held (e.g., for pre-flight inspection), mounted on the yoke, strapped to a knee, or even velcroed to the instrument panel. Dimensions in the drawing are in inches. See Prototype Form and Function, below, for descriptions of the display and controls.

drawings.jpg (30574 bytes)

Virtual Prototype

Although static mockups and functional specifications are useful for evaluating designs, a dynamic device like the Electronic Checklist can best be best realized and evaluated by means of a functional prototype, that is, a pre-production, working version of the device that demonstrates at least a subset of the end product's form and function. The cost and time required to develop a full-scale, realistic engineering prototype was prohibitive, so we developed a "virtual" prototype. A virtual prototype is a part-functional model of the designed device, implemented as a computer simulation. The virtual protoype includes a representation of the device's user interface (i.e., the form of the device) and, when manuplated using simulated controls operated by the computer's mouse and keyboard, it behaves in a manner consistent with that envisioned for the end product (i.e., its function).

Prototyping Tools

We considered several tools for prototyping (i.e., simulating) the Electronic Checklist, including Visual Basic, Visual C++, and VAPS (a special purpose rapid prototyping system). Based on the availability and costs of the various tools, and our familiarity with them, we chose Microsoft Access 97 for the prototyping tool.

Access is a database program that allows collecting, organizing, and manipulating related information. Using Access, we can manage all checklist information,   storing both the user interface and checklists for a large number of airplanes in a single database file. Within the file, all the checklists for a single airplane are stored in a separate storage container called a table; the user can view, add, and update table data by using online forms and find and retrieve desired data by using queries.

Access provided us with a visual programming environnment to rapidly prototype the Electronic Checklist interface and contents and to quickly change features found unacceptable in the evaluations.

Prototype Form and Function

The following images show the appearance and demonstrate the operation of the checklist.

Downloadable Prototype

You may download a working version of the prototype Electronic Checklist. To run it, you must have Microsoft Access 97 or a more recent version of Access. The version provided is pre-loaded with a set of Cessna 172 RG checklists, but you may customize it by creating your own Access table. The Access database and an image file are packaged in a zip file.

click here to download the prototype zip file, ecl.zip

Flight Simulator Environment

For the development and evaluation of our Electronic Checklist, we needed a test environment. The most effective one, without any risk, was a flight simulator. This allows us to test the performance, usability, and reliability of our Electronic Checklist in different, reasonably realistic situations, as opposed to developing and evaluating the device independently in a stand-alone mode.

We chose Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). MSFS is a software environment that models the basics of aerodynamics, airplane systems, the flight environment, and navigation. It is not only a computer game but is also actually used in flight training to provide instruction in these and other subjects to pilots. MSFS has a very large user and developer community and many hardware accessories (e.g., sticks, yokes, rudder pedals, throttles, etc.) and software accessories (e.g., airport and navigation aid data, terrain data, moving map displays, data capture utilities, etc.) are readily available.

Below is a screen shot of MSFS as used for development. Besides the software itself, our prototyping and evaluation environment consisted of a yoke, rudder pedals, throttle, and mouse (for manipulating the virtual controls on the simulator screen).

[MSFS image goes here]


What's New

Following are descriptions of significant changes made to this web page, most recent first.
 

17 Mar 00

14 Mar 00