The Future of Real Time Control Room Simulation – ES16B

Real-Time Simulation has been used in Air Traffic Control  for many years. It has experienced problems of reliability, verisimilitude, specificity and cost. Consoles are increasingly standardized. Control rooms are more alike, more computer-moderated and less industry-specific. The underlying software is more modular. The investment required to perform Real-Time Simulation is decreasing, as it becomes more general. Real-Time Simulation will become part of standard control rooms. Generalized Real-Time Simulation will become an economic and profitable part of the control room design process.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics and Human Factors 2016

Eds Waterson, P. Sims, R., Hubbard E-M ISBN 978-0-9554225-9-1

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The Air Traffic Kludge – ES16A

Air Traffic is a ‘Kludge’. Antiquated methods are linked to state-of-the-art devices, and ‘work-arounds’ devised to keep going. There has never been a systematic analysis of Air Traffic as a whole. Analysis shows that the archaic controller-aircrew link is the weakest link in the system. The answer, however, is not to introduce specific technical innovations, but to examine the system as a whole, and to use knowledge of human (and computer) capacities to provide a safe, humane and economic solution.

Originally appeared in “Contemporary Ergonomics and Human Factors 2016 ” Eds Waterson, A., Sims, R., and Hubbard, E.M.

ISBN 978-0-9554225-9-1

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Representation and Expert Decision

At present representation is the central idea of the psychology of mental activity.  Immediately after behaviourism, it became prominent in studies of mental activity in complex tasks, particularly in process control.  Early seen as fundamental to the study of problem solving, this idea has been adopted in the fields of reasoning and the understanding and production of text under the names of situational awareness or mental modelling. This book concerns the interaction between representation and expert decision making.

It presents a synthesis of work carried out in France on decision making in the activities of air traffic controllers, considered as an archetype of an expert task.  These experimental studies illustrate a synthetic presentation of the principles of the theoretical background to representation.  Examples are also given of practical applications in training and in the ergonomics of computer assisted training.

This work is intended for researchers, instructors and students of cognitive psychology as well as practising trainers or ergonomists.  It will also interest other disciplines in the cognitive sciences which use ideas of representation in other senses.  Finally, the staff of the air traffic control system, and particularly the controllers, will find, or rediscover, a different point of view on the much misunderstood skill of the air traffic controller.

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The Effect of Human Intervention on Simulated Air Traffic ES04a

A set of 52 records of students attempting to control the same initial traffic provided the opportunity to develop metrics of the differences due to their actions and of the similarities in the evolving situations.

Potential conflicts, conflict resolution orders and differences in subsequent traffic generated are investigated.

Samples begin to differ about three minutes after the start, but are not completely different until about 30 minutes after the start.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2004, Taylor and Francis, Ed. P.T. McCabe ISBN 0-8493-2342-8 pp.298-302

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Psychophysiological Measures of Fatigue and Somnolence in Simulated ATC

Eight Air traffic controllers carried out exercises using a TRACON II ATC Simulator. After a training and familiarisation day, the controller carried out four simulation exercises, two low and two high traffic load. His performance during each exercise was recorded, A self-assessment questionnaire for fatigue and a test of cortical evoked potential were applied and a sample of saliva was taken for cortisol analysis before and after each experimental session. The NASA-TLX was completed after each exercise and a test of alpha-rhythm attenuation was carried out at the start and end of each day.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 1998, Taylor and Francis,1998, ISBN 0-7484-0811-8 p429-433

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Second Evaluation of a Radically Revised En-route Air Traffic Control System ES03a

Second Evaluation of a Radically Revised En-route Air Traffic Control System ES03

26 fourth-year students (native French speakers) were given an overall briefing on air traffic control, including a video description of an advanced ATC system, followed by individual coaching using 20 selected training examples. They were instructed that conflict resolution was their main task, but that aircraft should leave at the predetermined point if possible.

They were then presented with two exercises presenting traffic corresponding to an entry rate of 200+ aircraft per hour in random direct flight for one-hour nominal duration. (When no action was required, the simulation rate was accelerated by a factor of six, so that the average length of one exercise was about 14 minutes.)

24 participants controlled this traffic correctly, with no unresolved conflicts. Of the 1720 potential conflicts only two were not resolved correctly. Of the 10468 aircraft, only 5 left at a time, place or height different from that planned.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2003 , Taylor and Francis, Ed. P.T. McCabe ISBN 0-415-30994-8 pp 305-310

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Real Time Air Traffic Control Simulation – What, Why, Why not, Whither?ES02

Real-time simulators are widely used in Air Traffic Control. They originated as training tools, by analogy with pilot trainers, and have become more elaborate as the tools of air traffic control have become more elaborate. Simulators are generally used for training, and, to a lesser extent, as research tools. As research instruments, they suffer from some major drawbacks. They are extremely expensive, and at the same time rigid and difficult to control. Modern digital simulators are extremely difficult to program, and, although the experimental psychology paradigm is generally accepted, its application is, in practice, fraught with difficulties. It is assumed by users of real-time simulation that training and experimental results derived from simulation transfer to the real world, but there are some reasons to think that this is not always the case. Subjective and ‘objective’ methods are available for the measurement of simulations, and some statistical analysis is employed, but few of these methods could be defended in a court of law. Simulation can, however, be used effectively where the purpose of the simulation is well understood, for example, in the formation of teams, the rehearsal of emergency procedures or the maintenance of formal skills.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2002 , Taylor and Francis, Ed. P.T. McCabe ISBN 0-415-27734-5 pp 203-207

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Methods of Measuring Strain on Air Traffic Controllers : A Pragmatic Review

This paper summarises thirty years of pragmatic experience of the measurement of strain (and stress) in Real Time Simulations of Air Traffic Control. We distinguish the objective, measurable, workload ‘stress’, which does not differ from person to person, from the effect this workload has on the controller ‘strain’. Eurocontrol has investigated methods varying from secondary tasks to electroencephalography, in terms of the time-scales to which they apply, what they measure, risks of failure and bias, cost and suitability for automation.

Operational Records, NASA-TLX, On-line ISA, Debriefing, Questionnaires, Embedded Secondary tasks, Subjective Fatigue Assessment, Activity Analysis, Postural Analysis, Sleep Logs, Voice Stress Analysis, Blood Pressure, Body Fluids (Cortisol in Saliva), Behaviour, Ambient Sound Levels, Heart Rate, Sinusarrythmia, Electroencephalography, (Evoked potentials, frequency domains), Blink Rate, Eye Movement, Respiration Rhythm, Muscle Tension, Skin Resistance, Tremor, Peer Assessment, Structured Interviews, the Konzentrations Leistungs Test, the Grammatical Reasoning Test and On-Line SWAT measurement

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 1999, Taylor and Francis, ISBN 0-748-40872X pp32-36

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Initial Evaluation of a radically revised En-Route Air Traffic Control System

25 postgraduate students (native French speakers) were given an overall briefing on Air Traffic Control, followed by individual familiarisation with the keyboard system and 20 training examples.

They were then presented with traffic corresponding to an entry rate of 250+ aircraft per hour in random direct flight for one-hour nominal duration. (When no action was required, the simulation rate was accelerated by a factor of six, so that the average length of one exercise was about 24 minutes.)

19 students controlled this traffic correctly, with no unresolved conflicts. The total of potential conflicts was 1322 of which 1304 (98.6%) were solved correctly.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2001, Taylor and Francis,Ed. M.A. Hanson ISBN 0-415-25073-0 pp 453-458

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Measures of Performance in Air Traffic Control ES04b

It has long been a problem in the scientific analysis of Air Traffic Control (ATC) that there is no adequate measure of the efficiency with which the traffic is controlled. This paper considers criteria that such a measure should meet, reviews some widely used measures, and proposes a relatively simple on-line measure that meets the criteria proposed.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2004, Taylor and Francis, Ed. P.T. McCabe ISBN 0-8493-2342-8 pp.303-307

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