Distributed Cognition is a theoretical structure, derived of cognitive science, which considers that the human knowledge and the cognition are not confined to the individual. In contrast, it is distributed to memories, facts or knowledge on the objects, individuals and environmental tools. The insertion of automated devices in different work stations had aimed at to reduce the operator workload and to minimize human error incidence. However, such initiative brought other questions, which demands great knowledge and abilities from the operator in the cognitive field. The main objective of this article is to present a preliminary cockpit analysis from Hutchins and his collaborators’ point of view to the Distributed Cognition approach in order to better understand the relations between the human activities and the environment that surrounds them. Since aviation is a system which has the main characteristic that the task occurs inside a highly dynamic environment, this approach presents a structure that seeks to analyze the complex activities of work, socially distributed, in which the diversity of technological artifacts and other tools are necessary parties. The analysis presented will be based on observations performed at EMBRAER 120 - "Brasilia" simulator during data collection of the study developed by Ribeiro (2003) about pilot workload in tasks of approach for landing using Flight Director (FD) device. The FD is an automation device shown in the artificial horizon of the pilot (indicator attitude), located in the main pilots’ visual field, in the central panel, and can be seen by both pilots. The results showed that tasks performed at the cockpit are well defined in each pilots’ workstation. Actually, each one has attributions predefined and tries to behave in order to attend their requirements. The notions of "horizon of observation", "distributed nature of information and representation", "shared task knowledge", and so on, which characterize the distribute cognition approach are described. Although the functions performed in a cockpit have an individual character, they happen in a synchronized way within the cockpit group, characterizing this work space as socially distributed. The Hutchins and collaborators’ structure offers a different perspective which can contribute to better understand cognitive phenomena which involves tasks developed at cockpit. Other studies are in development in order to deep the knowledge on how the cognitive process involved in the pilots’ activity of flying an aircraft occurs.
Leal de Oliveira Ribeiro, S.
(2007). Distributed Cognition at Cockpit: A Preliminary Study. 2007 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 588-592.