Parallel Approach Separation and Controller Performance

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Authors: Earl S. Stein

Stein, E. S. (1989). Parallel approach separation and controller performance (DOT/FAA/CT-TN89/50). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center.


This report describes a small sample study of the possible impact of altering the separation minimum between aircraft approaches to dependent parallel runways. The current standard is 2 nautical miles (nmi) and the proposed new standard is 1.5 nmi. Four full performance level air traffic controllers participated in 12 hours of simulated air traffic control activity in which separation standards were altered in a balanced fashioned after each 1 hour block of simulation. Data were collected on multiple airspace and operator performance variables. Also collected were workload and observer estimates. The goal was to determine if system performance could be improved without compromising safety. Results indicated an increased frequency of landings using the 1.5 nmi standard indicating a finite increase in airport capacity. There were no indications of reduced safety or increased operator workload. Since the data were generated based on a small sample, results should be considered indicative rather than conclusive. .

Updated: May 04, 2012 11:21 AM