An initial survey of National Airspace System

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Authors: Vicki Ahlstrom

Ahlstrom, V. (2003). An initial survey of National Airspace System auditory alarm issues in terminal air traffic control (DOT/FAA/CT-TN03/10). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


A researcher from the Research Development & Human Factors Laboratory of the William J. Hughes Technical Center conducted an exploratory study to examine current National Airspace System (NAS) auditory alarm issues. The purpose was to identify problem areas related to current auditory alarms and to collect opinions from the users on ways to improve auditory alarms in their work area. Based on availability, the participants were from the terminal (Air Traffic Control Tower and Terminal Radar Approach Control) area. Participants rated 15 potential auditory alarm issues on a scale from 0 to 10 on how problematic each issue was in their work area. Based on the comments participants provided, some of the problems that they reported with auditory alarms could be traced to a few specific systems. Other problems were more general in nature, including alarms being too numerous in the work environment. They also reported problems with too many false alarms. Although this study was not meant to be all encompassing, it provides an initial look at the auditory alarm issues within the current NAS environment.