Preliminary studies of planning and flight strip

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Authors: S. Basheer Ahmed
Stan Gromelski
Carolina Zingale, PhD.

Zingale, C., Gromelski, S., & Stein, E.S. (1992). Preliminary studies of planning and flight strip use as air traffic controller memory aids (DOT/FAA/CT-TN92/22). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center.


Preliminary studies were conducted with novice participants (aviation students) to investigate the effects of memory strategies (planning and flight strip management) on Air Traffic Control (ATC) performance. Participants were trained to use TRACON II, an ATC simulator for the personal computer, and were then tested in three experiments. The first two experiments tested whether having an opportunity to plan control strategies and having increased planning time influenced performance. The results did not indicate that performance improved under these conditions. Individuals differed widely in their performance regardless of test condition, suggesting that individual strategies may have influenced performance to a greater extent than did the test conditions. Methods which allow for the analysis of individual strategies should be used to conduct future research in these areas. The third experiment tested the effect of flight strip management (note writing) on performance and on memory for critical information. Correlations revealed that participants who wrote more on strips tended to perform better and also tended to remember more of the commands they had issued to aircraft, suggesting an important role for active flight strip manipulation. Overall, this work demonstrated that a PC-based simulator can provide a suitable environment in which to test issues in ATC. Realistic scenarios can be developed to accommodate a range of performance abilities, making this a potentially suitable testing device for use with actual air traffic controllers.