Investigating the evolving context of an unstable approach in aviation from mental model disconnects with an agent-based model

Hsueh Yi Lai, Chun Hsien Chen, Pai Zheng, Li Pheng Khoo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Unstable approach is an adverse aviation event, and it is strongly related to the interaction between pilots and air traffic controllers (ATCOs). Mental model disconnects among team members can be a major cause of possible interaction conflicts and defective team cognition. Therefore, to study the negative effects of various mental model disconnects, a framework of evolving team cognition (FETC) is proposed to examine the evolving context of an accident. An agent-based model (ABM) is developed to simulate how mental model disconnects are involved in evolving landing scenarios. The results of a simulation conducted with the ABM indicate that mental model disconnects occur more frequently as an aircraft approaches the terminal area. For landing scenarios in the outer area between 100 and 50 nautical miles (Nm), task-related mental model disconnects occur more frequently, causing incompatibility between parties. The incompatibility reveals the necessity of extra coordination to prevent the potential occurrence of system errors. As for the scenarios around the terminal area (30–15 Nm), the team-related mental model disconnects prevail, leading to passive information dissemination regarding changing conditions and late initiation of urgent coordination. The combination of these factors causes a team to miss the window for preventing an adverse event.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106657
JournalReliability Engineering and System Safety
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Agent-based model
  • Landing safety
  • Mental model disconnects
  • Shared mental model
  • Team cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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