Air Traffic Control Decision Support Tool Design and Implementation Handbook

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Authors: Brion Woroch, Ph.D.
Carolina Zingale, PhD.

Woroch, B. & Zingale, C. (2019). Air Traffic Control Decision Support Tool Design and Implementation Handbook. DOT/FAA/TC-19/37. Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.



The purpose of the Handbook is to provide guidelines for the development of air traffic Decision Support Tools (DSTs) planned for use in the National Airspace System (NAS) and how to best train users to work with those tools.


DSTs are typically not 100% accurate or reliable. Nevertheless, they can provide valuable assistance to users by helping them evaluate, select, and implement effective solutions. To do so, DSTs must be designed appropriately so that the tools themselves do not become distracting or add to workload.


The guidelines provided in this document were derived from several sources including, 1) literature on automation support in air traffic control and other complex domains, 2) findings from previous studies conducted to investigate DST use by novices, and 3) information obtrained from six air traffic controllers who participated in familiarization workshops on several DSTs.


The Handbook consists of three sections. The first section provides guidelines for DST user interface design. The second section provides guidelines for training users to work with DSTs effectively. The third section provides an overview of research on human-automation teamwork. Human-automation teamwork will become increasingly important as automated systems continue to advance and artificial intelligence capabilities become more sophisticated.


The guidelines in the Handbook will help system developers design DSTs that enable users to build appropriate trust in the tools and allow users to intervene effectively if system failures occur.


The Handbook will be useful to human factors practitioners and systems engineers in FAA acquisition, including requirements developers, training developers, and others developing and testing air traffic control (ATC) systems. The results will also be useful to individuals and agencies who look to FAA standards for human factors guidance for DST use and integration.