Visual Coding of Status for Technical Operations Systems

Full Text: PDF icon Pdf (0.15 MB)
Document Number:
Publication Date:
Authors: Vicki Ahlstrom
Robert Muldoon

Ahlstrom, V., & Muldoon, R. (2004). Visual coding of status for technical operations systems (DOT/FAA/CT-TN04/20). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


In order to monitor and control over 30,000 different services and equipment, Technical Operations (TO) specialists must be provided with clear and consistent methods for recognizing status quickly. Without specific guidance on status coding, each new system must come up with a strategy for conveying status information, leading to coding that is inconsistent with other systems and often inconsistent with human factors best practices. The purpose of this document is to promote consistency in the coding of status information used for monitoring and control at TO Service Operations Centers. This report defines the various terms used for status-related events in TO, describes the TO work environment, describes current information displays used by TO, and explains how to use screen real estate to enhance user performance. This document also describes the various methods used to code status and provides explicit recommendations based on Human Factors best practices. If the course of action described in this report is successful, it will promote consistency in the coding of status information across systems. This can reduce the time needed to identify and react to a potential problem, minimizing the potential for outages and decreasing the impact of outages that do occur.