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Assessment of controller situation awareness in future terminal RNAV operations

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1 Author(s)
Smith, E.C. ; MITRE Corp., McLean

The MITRE Corporation's Center for Advanced Aviation Systems Development (CAASD) was tasked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with defining and validating the performance-based air traffic management (ATM) concept to address the increasing need for improved capacity, efficiency, and productivity in the National Airspace System (NAS). A key enabler of this concept is the continued implementation and greater utilization of performance-based navigation provided by area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP) today and through the future. Implementation of new procedures and features, such as vertical profiles, are expected to reduce the active controlling task that is fundamental to air traffic control (ATC) operations and instead, increase monitoring of operations. This change is intended to leverage flight deck automation and reduce pilot and controller workload; however, it is critical to fully understand the human factors implications of making this shift, especially as traffic operations continue to grow. A human-in-the-loop (HITL) simulation was performed to evaluate changes in situation awareness for the feeder arrival controller position in a terminal radar approach control (TRACON) environment with conventional arrival operations and with future RNAV arrival operations when moderate and high levels of traffic were managed. An assessment of controller situation awareness was made based upon results from the situation awareness global assessment technique (SAGAT) and measurement of controller detection of pre-planned aircraft deviations from their assigned clearance. Workload was also measured using the NASA-task load index (TLX). Findings suggest that a change of controller situation awareness does occur as a result of the increased traffic levels managed. Assessing and mitigating this issue is under study by MITRE/CAASD, in particular through display and alerting automation for radar controllers.

Published in:

Digital Avionics Systems Conference, 2007. DASC '07. IEEE/AIAA 26th

Date of Conference:

21-25 Oct. 2007