Graphic Simulation and the Automated En Route Air Traffic Control Concept

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Authors: Earl S. Stein

Stein, E.S. (1985). Graphic simulation and the automated en route air traffic control concept: An FAA Technical Center preliminary study (DOT/FAA/CT-TN85/29). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center.


Air Traffic Controllers function in a demanding and dynamic environment where information management is a key to success. The Automated En Route Air Traffic Control (AERA) Program has been proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide controllers with a series of information and decision aides. The FAA Technical Center in Atlantic City has used graphic simulation to take a preliminary look at selected AERA functions and the procedures used to employ them. Unlike dynamic simulation, graphic techniques are not interactive; rather, they provide a sequence of predetermined displays from which expert judgment can be drawn. Graphics can be set up quickly, and they require little or no software. The current study used two round cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) which provided a flight information display and a synchronized planned view display (PVD). Five participant controllers from the Technical Center staff examined forty-four "snapshots" which covered approximately 1 hour of air traffic flow. Participants were asked to comment on what they saw. The results from the limited sample of controllers indicated that they could have used the procedures which were provided but would have preferred more flexibility. They did not feel that advisory warnings, presented 18 to 20 minutes in advance, were useful. The graphic simulation process itself was well received and participants were willing to work with it as a means of stimulating their thoughts and attitudes.

Updated: May 04, 2012 11:21 AM