En route Air Traffic Controller Commands

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Authors: Kenneth Allendoerfer, PhD.
Shantanu Pai
Ben Willems
Carolina Zingale, PhD.

Allendoerfer, K. R., Zingale, C., Pai, S., & Willems, B. (2006). En route air traffic controller commands: Frequency of use during routine operations (DOT/FAA/TC-TN06/04). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


The Federal Aviation Administration has started development of the En route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system to replace the current en route system consisting of the Host Computer System, Display System Replacement (DSR), and the User Request Evaluation Tool . ERAM will provide a variety of new user interface (UI) capabilities for accessing and executing controller commands. An appropriate evaluation of the new UI capabilities will determine how effectively controllers are able to work with the new system. This technical note documents the frequency of use of controller commands using the legacy system. We calculated the number of each entry type made per hour in an 11-hour period at a field site and found that the most frequently used commands were: 1) Offset Datablock, 2) Implied Aircraft Selection (i.e., Accept Handoff/Force Datablock), 3) Initiate Handoff, and 4) Assign Interim Altitude. The 30 most frequently used commands made up approximately 95% of the total number of controller entries. We recommend that future test activities target these most frequent commands. We discuss future phases of the project and ways that these data can be used to compare ERAM to the legacy system.