Future En Route Workstation Study

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Authors: Jennifer M. Ross
Ben Willems
Carolina Zingale, PhD.

Zingale, C. M., Willems, B., & Ross, J. M. (2010). Future En Route Workstation Study (FEWS III): Human-in-the-loop simulation of air traffic controller management of advanced aircraft concepts (DOT/FAA/TC-10/14,III). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Joint Planning and Development Office have developed the Next Generation Air Transportation System, NextGen, in an effort to transform the existing air traffic system to manage anticipated increases of up to three times current traffic levels by 2025. In this third volume of the Future En Route Workstation Study (FEWS) series, we conducted a simulation with eleven en route air traffic controllers to provide an initial evaluation of three NextGen-related concepts: the increased use of Area Navigation (RNAV) routes, aircraft self-spacing (one aircraft follows a lead), and aircraft grouping (two or more aircraft fly as in military formation flight). We conducted the simulation under very high traffic conditions (two to three times current levels) using a Baseline system that simulated the En Route Automation Modernization, ERAM, system and using the FEWS system that added features and capabilities to support controller tasks. We found many benefits for the FEWS system. The participants managed more aircraft, held traffic less, and reported lower workload and higher performance when they used the FEWS system. We also found benefits for the use of RNAVs that implemented both lateral and vertical conformance constraints. The participants managed more aircraft and issued fewer voice clearances to aircraft. We found few objective benefits of self-spacing and grouping. The participants commented favorably on self-spacing, but they commented negatively on grouping.