Automation Technology and Human Performance: Current Research and Trends

By Mark W. Scerbo | Go to book overview

Conclusions from the Application of a Methodology to Evaluate Future Air Traffic Management System Designs

Philip J. Smith, David Woods, Charles Billings, Rebecca Denning and Sidney Dekker Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory, The Ohio State University

Elaine McCoy Department of Aviation, Ohio University

Nadine Sarter Institute of Aviation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne


INTRODUCTION

We have been exploring the use of a general methodology to predict the impact of future Air Traffic Management (ATM) concepts and technologies. In applying this methodology, our emphasis has been on the importance of modeling coordination and cooperation among the multiple agents within this system, and on understanding how the interactions among these agents will be influenced as new roles, responsibilities, procedures and technologies are introduced. To accomplish this, we have been collecting data on performance under the current air traffic management system, trying to identify critical problem areas and looking for exemplars suggestive of general approaches for solving such problems. Using the results of these field studies, we have developed a set of concrete scenarios centered around future system designs, and have studied performance in these scenarios with a set of 40 controllers, dispatchers, pilots and traffic managers. This paper provides a brief overview of the methodology employed, and then provides a summary of the major recommendations that have resulted from its application.


METHODS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF FUTURE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

An important methodological question is: How can we identify system requirements for new ATM concepts and technologies, recognizing the potential for these changes to create new roles and procedures for individual participants, new forms of coordination across personnel and organizations, and new types of information to communicate, assess and integrate? This is difficult in part because the system of interest does not yet exist. A further challenge arises because many details of this future system design may be under- specified. To design and test these new roles before committing large pools of resources, we need a model method to quickly prototype and study how the people and technologies will coordinate in realistic operational scenarios for different ATM concepts.

Different developers, stakeholders and decision-makers are each likely to develop their own insights and views on how the whole system will work in the future. Consequently, another challenge is how to rigorously explore all of the implications of these different viewpoints. For without doing so, it would be easy to oversimplify the impact of a new system on the roles, decisions, coordination needs, and information requirements of the people involved in the ATM system.

These characteristics--a still under-specified system design, accompanied by the potential to oversimplify the impact of design decisions on people's roles and activities--create a difficult methodological challenge. How can we assess the impact of new ATM concepts and technologies on the individual and collective performances of controllers, dispatchers, flight crews and traffic managers?

In our work we have been using methods that try to balance cost, timeliness, degree of control, face

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