HITL Simulation Experiment of IADCS

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Authors: Sonia Alvidrez, TASC, Inc.
Robert Bastholm, Spectrum Software Technology, Inc.
John DiRico, TASC, Inc.
Matthew Dworsky, TASC, Inc.
Thomas Fincannon, Ph.D., Applied Research Associates, Inc.
Sehchang Hah, PhD.
Kevin Hallman, TASC, Inc.
Daniel R. Johnson, FAA Human Factors Branch
Helene Maliko-Abraham, T. G. O’Brien, Associates, Inc.
Gary Mueller, FAA Human Factors Branch
Kenneth Schulz, Ph. D., TASC, Inc.
Ben Willems

Hah, S., Willems, B., Muller, G., Johnson, D., Schulz, K., DiRico, J., Hallman, K., Maliko-Abraham, H., Alvidrez, S., Bastholm, R., Dworsky, M., & Fincannon, T. (2017). Human-in-the-Loop Simulation Experiment of Integrated Arrival/Departure Control Services (DOT/FAA/TC-15/43). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.



In the Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) experiment of Integrated Arrival/Departure Control Services (IADCS), we investigated the effects of changes in airspace, routes, and sector roles on Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) and Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) controllers.


Airlines and the National Airspace System (NAS) suffer from a reduction in airport throughput or even closure when weather or traffic volume constrains arrival or departure gates to and from the TRACON. Airlines may experience increases in delays, distance flown, and fuel burn. The IADCS concept provides ways to sustain airport throughput at a higher level for a longer period. The IADCS procedures will reduce the distance flown by and fuel consumption of aircraft arriving at an airport. Method: We conducted a HITL experiment that used Atlanta TRACON (A80) and Atlanta ARTCC (ZTL) airspace. Derived from the air traffic forecasts for the year 2020, we developed traffic samples for the airspace and created changes to airspace and routes to support the IADCS concept. The procedures included a Baseline—no changes to airspace or routes; a Lateral Airspace Shift procedure—a sector gaining a section of airspace; a Laterally Separated, Bidirectional procedure—lateral separation between departure and arrival routes; and two Vertically Separated, Bidirectional procedures—one with arrivals at higher altitude and departures at lower altitude, and another with arrival and departure aircraft reversed. We used subjective, physiological, and system data to quantify differences between the effect of IADCS conditions.


Aircraft travel time was shorter when they flew in the IADCS procedures than in the Baseline procedure. Subjective ratings showed that participant controllers preferred the lateral airspace shift and the laterally separated route procedures. They gave substantially negative ratings for one of the vertically separating procedures in which they controlled arrival aircraft at the high altitude and departure aircraft at the low altitude. Our statistical tests of both frequencies and durations of communications between controllers and pilots showed that controllers talked more often with pilots and spent more time with them when they were in the vertically bidirectional procedures. In addition, controllers committed more deviations in those two procedures than in the other procedures.


Results from this research are applicable to high-density airports and metroplex airspace.