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Authors: Sehchang Hah, PhD.
Randy Phillips
Ben Willems

Hah, S., Willems, B., & Phillips, R. (2006). The effect of air traffic increase on controller workload. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50th Annual Meeting , 50-54.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been increasing the National Airspace System (NAS) capacity to accommodate the predicted rapid growth of air traffic. One method to increase the capacity is reducing air traffic controller workload so that they can handle more air traffic. It is crucial to measure the impact of the increasing future air traffic on controller workload. Our experimental data show a linear relationship between the number of aircraft in the en route center sector and controllers’ perceived workload. Based on the extensive range of aircraft count from 14 to 38 in the experiment, we can predict en route center controllers working as a team of Radar and Data controllers with the automation tools available in the our experiment could handle up to about 28 aircraft. This is 33% more than the 21 aircraft that en route center controllers typically handle in a busy sector.