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NtoM is a concept of operations which pursues the feasibility, from a human factors perspective, of having a single pilot/aircrew controlling several remotely piloted aircraft systems at once in non-segregated airspace. To meet such feasibility, this multitasking must be safe and not interfere with the job of the air traffic controllers due to delays or errors associated with parallel piloting. To that end, a set of measures at several levels is suggested, which includes workload prediction and balance, pilot activity monitoring, and a special emphasis on interface usability and the pilot’s situational awareness.

The concept relies greatly on the exploitation of the potential of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), anticipating future widespread implementation and full use. Some of these features could also be leveraged for the one-to-one pilot-aircraft scenario, as they constitute extra safety measures, like an orderly handover procedure or the management in the event of a detected pilot incapacitation or a breach of orders.

NtoM flight assignments
Example of flight assignations. The use of CPDLC is optional.

NtoM stages

As a collateral benefit, it would allow for an optimization of the human resources of the operators, providing also a way to schedule or assign the flight to the pilots considering their particular skills to leverage, keep or train them.

Another key piece of the whole system is the implementation of the CPDLC display, designed to provide a guided, quick and intuitive interface. It has been designed keeping in mind a future, more complex and rich use of this technology, for which the current displays and software menus fall short in usability, as these are prepared for the small set of messages elements currently in use. On its own, the display could be a valuable tool for the training of the CPDLC message set and procedures.

Some parts of the flight, limited by different criteria, could be assigned with preference to certain pilots.

The NtoM prototype is currently on development at an advanced stage, with three articles describing it being soon published. More info: mfas

Prototype screencasts


1. Dynamic representation of the workload in the face of an speed change.

2. Dynamic representation of the workload in the face of a direct to execution.