Effect of free flight conditions

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Authors: Kenneth Allendoerfer, PhD.
Mica R. Endsley
Richard H. Mogford
Michael D. Snyder
Earl S. Stein

Endsley, M. R., Mogford, R. H., Allendoerfer, K. R., Snyder, M. D., & Stein, E. S. (1997). Effect of free flight conditions on controller performance, workload, and situation awareness (DOT/FAA/CT-TN97/12). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


Free flight represents a major change in the way that aircraft are handled in the National Airspace System. It has the potential to significantly increase airspace utilization and, by doing so, improve aircraft throughput. The degree to which these objectives can be met without compromising aircraft safety will depend on appropriate changes in the air traffic control system. This study provides an evaluation of some of the potential effects of free flight on controllers’ ability to maintain an accurate and complete picture of the traffic situation. This picture or mental representation is essential for monitoring and separation functions. The study revealed that, using current technology, some aspects of free flight may adversely influence the situation awareness and performance of controllers. The results provide information on some possible consequences of free flight that should be explored in future research.

Updated: May 04, 2012 11:21 AM