A Human Factors Simulation

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Authors: Anton Koros
Pamela Della Rocco
Randy Sollenberger, PhD.

Koros, A., Sollenberger, R., & Della Rocco, P. (2007). A human factors simulation of required navigation performance converging approach procedures (DOT/FAA/TC-07/12). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


The National Airspace System Human Factors Research and Engineering Group (HFREG) Human Factors Team – Atlantic City, ATO-P, assessed a proposed Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedure into San Francisco International Airport (SFO). RNP technology offers several operational benefits including more efficient utilization of airspace, reduced flying time, and reduced air-to-ground communications. The simulation focused on human factors issues affecting Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCSs) when operating a converging runway approach procedure into the SFO Runway 28R during reduced visibility conditions. Sixteen ATCSs participated in the simulation that we conducted at the Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control in December 2004. The simulation assessed the controllers’ ability to identify blundering aircraft using an Airport Surveillance Radar-9 (ASR-9) display. It also evaluated the propensity for nuisance breakouts, communications options, No Transgression Zone placement options, and the impact of high traffic levels. The simulation comprised a reaction time task and a series of high fidelity operational scenarios designed to assess the viability of the proposed approach. The study confirmed that monitor controllers identified blundering aircraft accurately and timely when using the ASR-9 display. Sector performance remained high across all conditions, and controllers demonstrated no serious operational deficiencies. Overall, the controllers provided positive ratings and comments regarding the proposed 28R RNP approach and procedure. The simulation resulted in two primary recommendations (a) incorporate Air Traffic procedures for RNP approaches into Federal Aviation Administration Order 7110.65 to ensure that ATCSs receive RNP- specific training and (b) present Flight Management System/RNP equipment information in the datablock.