Human Factors in Air Traffic Control/Flight Deck Integration: Implications of Data-Link Simulation Research
Karol Kerns The MITRE Corporation Center for Advanced Aviation System Development, McLean, VA
The subject of this chapter is air traffic control (ATC)/flight deck integration. ATC/ flight deck integration means that ground-side and air-side resources in the National Airspace System (NAS) are brought together so that the skills, knowledge, and capabilities resident in each of these elements can be shared. It starts with the proposition that there is an integrative or coordinative mechanism that makes certain components of the system act in greater concert and thereby achieve a better outcome at no greater cost.
The reason for sharing resources and developing an integrative mechanism is to be able to do a better job of meeting operational needs. Today, the primary integrative mechanism that supports the exchange of information between controllers and pilots is radiotelephone; voice messages carry virtually all air traffic clearances and flight advisory and warning information. However, years of refining the language and procedure of communications have only served to confirm the intractable nature of many of the problems inherent in the exclusive use of spoken language and simplex radio for the air-ground transfer of information. In addition, the growing demand for aviation services and the constraints on budget that both the aviation industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) face mean that the NAS will need to seek solutions in the future that make better use of existing ground-based and airborne automation systems, rather than making investments in new airport construction or expansions at major airports as a way of absorbing projected demands. Many believe that a new integrative mechanism, a digital data communications link, can help alleviate some of the communications problems in the current voice environment and more effectively couple the ground-based and airborne NAS resources in the future environment.
The purpose of this chapter is to examine how a data link should be used in the operational environment as the integrative mechanism. Operationally oriented simulation research on data link is a primary source of evidence on how human characteristics will interact with this new technology to affect the exchange of information between the ground system and the flight deck. This chapter reviews the research