Investigating the Tradespace between Increased Automation and Optimal Manning on Aircraft Carrier Decks

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Ross, Weston


Cummings, Mary

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With increasing prevalence and capabilities of autonomous systems as part of complex heterogeneous manned-unmanned environments (HMUEs), an important consideration is the impact of the introduction of automation on the optimal assignment of human personnel. The US Navy has implemented optimal staffing techniques before in the 1990's and 2000's with a "minimal staffing" approach. The results were poor, leading to the degradation of Naval preparedness. Clearly, another approach to determining optimal staffing is necessary. To this end, the goal of this research is to develop human performance models for use in determining optimal manning of HMUEs. The human performance models are developed using an agent-based simulation of the aircraft carrier flight deck, a representative safety-critical HMUE. The Personnel Multi-Agent Safety and Control Simulation (PMASCS) simulates and analyzes the effects of introducing generalized maintenance crew skill sets and accelerated failure repair times on the overall performance and safety of the carrier flight deck. A behavioral model of four operator types (ordnance officers, chocks and chains, fueling officers, plane captains, and maintenance operators) is presented here along with an aircraft failure model. The main focus of this work is on the maintenance operators and aircraft failure modeling, since they have a direct impact on total launch time, a primary metric for carrier deck performance. With PMASCS I explore the effects of two variables on total launch time of 22 aircraft: 1) skill level of maintenance operators and 2) aircraft failure repair times while on the catapult (referred to as Phase 4 repair times). It is found that neither introducing a generic skill set to maintenance crews nor introducing a technology to accelerate Phase 4 aircraft repair times improves the average total launch time of 22 aircraft. An optimal manning level of 3 maintenance crews is found under all conditions, the point at which any additional maintenance crews does not reduce the total launch time. An additional discussion is included about how these results change if the operations are relieved of the bottleneck of installing the holdback bar at launch time.





Ross, Weston (2016). Investigating the Tradespace between Increased Automation and Optimal Manning on Aircraft Carrier Decks. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


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