Air Traffic Controller Workload

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Authors: Earl S. Stein

Stein, E.S. (1985). Air traffic controller workload: An examination of workload probe (DOT/FAA/CT-TN84/24). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center.


Air traffic controller workload represents a human response to the demands or taskloads produced by the airspace system. The prediction of workload could be a useful tool for planning and staffing. The automated en route air traffic control (AERA) program proposes such a tool. Ten air traffic controllers were exposed to a series of 1-hour simulations which were designed to produce a workload range of low, moderate, and high. Controller and observer responses indicated that three levels of workload were generated and that the workload was directly related to the difficulty of the control tasks performed. Workload was particularly influenced by airspace factors of aircraft count, clustering, and restricted airspace. Overall results support the premise that workload could be predictable using measures of system inactivity.

Updated: May 04, 2012 11:21 AM