Staffed NextGen Tower

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Authors: Ferne Friedman-Berg, PhD.
Nicole Racine

Friedman-Berg, F., & Racine, N. (2013). Staffed NextGen Tower: A Camera Integration and Computer-Human Interface Part-Task Evaluation (DOT/FAA/TC-13/45). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to elicit user feedback and identify computer-human interface issues related to integrating the camera views onto the Staffed NextGen Tower (SNT) displays prior to full human-in-the-loop simulations.

Background: Tower controllers in proposed SNT environments will use certified surveillance and camera views instead of the out-the-window view while providing Air Traffic Control services. As the use of cameras for this purpose is a new concept, there are many different ways this concept could be implemented. This study examined some of the alternatives for implementing the SNT concept in a realistic environment.

Method: In this study, four NextGen Air Traffic Control Management Cadre members controlled traffic and evaluated camera use during nine 15-minute, low-level traffic scenarios that included off-nominal events. At the end of each scenario and at the end of the study, the participants completed a questionnaire, suggested improvements, and provided comments on adequacy, necessity, and usability of the cameras and displays.

Results: The participants suggested making several changes to the camera system prior to future studies. These suggestions included changing the camera placement, increasing the camera resolution, and providing independent cameras for each control position. The participants identified viewing aircraft on final approach and holding short of runways as potential applications for cameras in an SNT environment. Participants also identified the need for some type of alerting decision-support tool.

Conclusion: Participants provided specific feedback that can lead to changes in the way the SNT concept is implemented.

Applications: Suggested improvements from this study will be incorporated into a future SNT human-in-the-loop simulation and into field demonstrations. The changes identified in this study will guide the future implementation of the SNT concept.