Guidance for the Selection and Use of NextGen TBID

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Authors: Thomas Fincannon
Todd Truitt, PhD.

Fincannon, T. & Truitt, T. (2018). Standard Practices and Guidance for the Selection and Use of Time-Based Information on NextGen ATC Displays (DOT/FAA/TC-17/68). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.



The purpose of this Next Generation Air Transportation (NextGen) research is to evaluate time-based information display (TBID) concepts and examine standard practices for the display and use of time-based information on Terminal Air Traffic Control (ATC) displays.


We reviewed literature to identify elements of TBIDs that were useful in prior research. This review showed the importance of color coding, timelines, slot markers, and advisories for TBIDs. Method: We conducted two usability studies to further examine TBIDs in the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON). The first analysis used two subject matter experts (SMEs) to examine the timeline graphical user interface (T-GUI), planview graphical user interface (P-GUI), color coding, timelines, slot markers, and the exact presentation of time (i.e., minutes and fractions of minutes with early/late [E/L] indicators) with a non-interactive prototype. The second analysis used a dynamic low-fidelity prototype to further examine a TBID with color coding, slot markers, and the exact presentation of time with a P-GUI.


The data were entirely subjective and no task performance data were obtained or used to evaluate the TBID alternatives. Findings from the first usability study showed that a T-GUI was poorly suited for TRACON operations, and that further development should focus on color coding, slot markers, and the exact presentation of time with a P-GUI. The second usability study showed a preference to use color coding and slot markers for TBID. Participants also expressed a preference to include speed advisories, however, only four participants’ data were used in the scenario-based evaluation, and statistical power was not computed or reported in the results.


Previously published research that demonstrated an advantage of timeline displays primarily used tasks that required operators to manage en route traffic or traffic flow in a more strategic way. NextGen TBIDs for TRACON operations should include color coding and slot markers to present time-based information. Displays should replace redundant information (e.g., exact presentation of time) with advisories that provide information about how to resolve problems with scheduling.


This research supports future development of a NextGen TBID in the TRACON. The study obtained limited, subjective data that we evaluated to support what we are providing as our initial recommendations for NextGen TBIDs.