Human-in-the-Loop Evaluation

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Authors: D. M. McAnulty
Todd Truitt, PhD.
Carolina Zingale, PhD.

Zingale, C. M., Truitt, T. R., & McAnulty, D. M. (2008). Human-in-the-loop evaluation of an integrated arrival/departure air traffic control service for major metropolitan airspaces (DOT/FAA/TC-08/04). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


The increasing number of U.S. air flights has placed a severe strain on the National Airspace System (NAS), especially airspace surrounding major metropolitan areas. In a recent study, Truitt, McAnulty, and Willems (2004) tested and found benefits in procedures designed to address some of the pressures around New York airspace. The procedures included extending terminal lateral separation standards (3 nm) and procedures (diverging courses) into en route airspace as well as collocating terminal and en route facilities to promote more effective communication and coordination. The Integrated Arrival/Departure Air Traffic Control Service, termed the Big Airspace (BA) concept, applies these procedures to other busy areas and includes the use of Area Navigation (RNAV) routes as well as dynamic resectorization to make airspace boundaries more flexible. Twenty-four controllers from en route and terminal facilities participated in a simulation that compared a baseline (BL) condition using current airspace standards and procedures to two BA conditions. In one condition, en route and terminal participants managed traffic in the same control room, and in the other condition they worked as if in separate facilities. Overall, the results provided support for the BA concept. The aircraft moved through the arrival corridor more efficiently in the BA conditions than in the BL condition, and participants made fewer ground-ground transmissions and issued fewer altitude and heading clearances. Subjective ratings of performance, situation awareness, and the ability to move traffic through the sector were also higher in the BA conditions.