Electronic Tabular Display Subsystem (ETABS) study part 2

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Authors: B.L. Rosenberg
T.E. Zurinskas

Rosenberg, B.L. & Zurinskas, T.E. (1983). Electronic Tabular Display Subsystem (ETABS) study: A controller evaluation of an en route flight data entry and display system (DOT/FAA/CT-TN83/09). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


This report describes a subjective evaluation of an automated en route air traffic control (ATC) flight data handling system known as the Electronic Tabular Display Subsystem (ETABS) engineering model. This engineering model was installed at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Technical Center's En Route ATC Laboratory for operational simulation tests. The main objective of these tests was to determine the potential value of specific ETABS features for use in the future En Route Sector Suite. The features evaluated were primarily the replacement of paper flight strips and printers by a cathode-ray tube (CRT) electronic flight strip display and a separate menu-prompted CRT touch screen data entry device. Ten volunteer, active, en route ATC specialists served as test subjects, each alternating as a radar (R)-controller, data (D)-controller, or observer at their assigned sectors. Data were collected in the form of eight questionnaires administered at various training and test intervals. Results showed that the feature most highly rated was the CRT display of flight strips on the near tabular display. Most said that this was the one ETABS feature ready for operational implementation. They preferred a two-line flight strip format with local ability to modify strip data format and contents.

Controllers reported problems with interactive display touch-entry errors and with complexity of menu structure. ETABS was judged fairly easy to learn and operate. The subject controllers made many written comments for improving ETABS. The controllers judged that implementation of this modified ETABS concept and its operational use could result in a substantial improvement to the present ATC system.

Updated: May 04, 2012 11:21 AM