Study of an ATC baseline

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Authors: Michele Heiney
Randy Sollenberger, PhD.
Ben Willems

Willems, B., Heiney, M., Sollenberger, R. (2002). Study of an ATC baseline for the evaluation of team configurations: Information requirements (DOT/FAA/CT-02/17). Atlantic City International Airport: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center


This study investigated the information needs of Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCSs) to their working position. The working positions used in this study included the current radar ATCS position and the concept airspace coordinator position. Thirty current Certified Professional Controllers from Air Route Traffic Control Centers within the Continental United States volunteered to participate in a human-in-the-loop experiment. ATCSs worked in teams of three, either on a radar, upstream data, or airspace coordinator position. Within the team of three, two ATCSs always worked on a radar position, while the third rotated through radar, upstream D-side, and airspace coordinator positions. After they had controlled simulated air traffic on a high fidelity simulation of the Display System Replacement System, the participants answered a detailed Information Requirement Questionnaire (IRQ). The IRQ asked about types of radar, flight, and weather information needed for future automation functions for the radar and airspace coordinator positions. The future automation functions included conflict probe, resolution, and trial planning, direct routing advisory, flight path monitor, and load smoother. The participants indicated that the airspace coordinator needed different information from the automation than the radar ATCS. They also rated the importance of the automation functions differently depending on the ATCS position that would use them. Therefore, we need to take into account the roles and responsibilities of the ATCS when deciding the format and amount of information displayed on automation tools.