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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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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Mindspace ES06c

This is a poster, proposing a probably useful publication. It was greeted with the usual passionate apathy. I am working on it, but on a low priority.

The headlong development of computer-based systems has far outstripped the human resources necessary to guarantee the oversight of human-Computer Interfaces (HCI) by professionally qualified ergonomists. It is very necessary to put relevant information into the hands of system designers before costly and irretrievable errors are made. Most ergonomics literature is aimed at the scientific community, devoting most of its content to highly technical descriptions of experimental methods, subject pools, and statistical analyses. If the information is to reach the target audience, it must be made palatable, without oversimplification or condescension. The late Stephen Pheasant’s ‘Bodyspace’ provides an example of what can be done.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2006, Taylor and Francis, Ed. P.D. Bust ISBN13 978 0 4`5 39818 3 pp.299-300

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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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Human-Computer Interaction – the Elephant in the Corner ES08

Although ergonomists have produced much valuable and valid data on the interaction between humans and computers, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to the ‘elephant in the corner’ – the PC (or Apple) without which few people could work effectively today. This paper summarises the development of the classic interface and discusses some of the choices that were made on the way, and how they were made. It looks at the way the personal computer has changed in response to perceived needs (not necessarily those of the user), the transition from a numerical processing device to a text handling device to an image-handling device, and potentially a ‘process handling device’. It discusses the separation of ‘hardware’ from ‘software’, the development of information technology as an elementary life skill, the transition from the ‘stand-alone’ computer to the internet-linked and web-integrated system and the possible consequences of the contemporary trend to an increased role for ‘intuitive’ designers, as opposed to ‘scientific’ experimenters in the development of future systems. Finally, it offers a few reproaches, warnings and suggestions for ergonomists from the past for the future

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2008, Taylor and Francis, ed. P.D. Bust ISBN 978-0-415-46575-5 pp.239-245

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Eye point-of-gaze, EEG and ECG Measures of Graphical/Keyboard Interfaces in Simulated ATC

To assess the utility of eye movement recording for the assessment of different ATC operating methods, its relation to other electro-physiological measures and their sensitivity to task difficulty, 8 controllers carried out four TRACON II exercises using a graphic and a keyboard interface in light and heavy traffic. An iView head-mounted eye-tracking device was used. EEG/EOG and EKG were also measured, and on-line observations recorded using the Noldus Observer System. Significant events during the exercises were also identified for detailed analysis.

Published in Contemporary Ergonomics 2000, Taylor and Francis, ISBN 0-748-40958-0 pp 12-16

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Deep Design – Beyond the Interface

Many large-scale dynamic control systems are moving from traditional equipment-determined control systems to computer-mediated wholly or semi-automated systems. There has been a tendency for computer-based systems to mimic traditional displays. This approach fails to make use of the enhanced information-handling capacity of the computer, and often produces displays that are in practice inferior to those they replace – occasionally with tragic results. A better approach is to begin with an qualitative functional analysis of the control task, with as little reference to the existing system as possible, then to consider the component tasks, selecting those for which the operators are best suited to compose an interesting but not overloading workload, and delegating the remaining tasks to the computer-based system. Where the workload varies with time, particularly if the variation is unpredictable or uncontrollable, it may be necessary to provide ‘fall-back’ automation, which will maintain safety without regard to efficiency. Only after the operators’ overall tasks have been defined should consideration be given to what and how to display information to the operators, and to the communication links to be used. In many instances graphical images will be preferable to tabular and symbolic to numeric forms. Displays need not be confined to current data – historical trends and projections of future situations can be displayed. The latter can be particularly valuable if linked with projected sequences of control actions, to verify their effectiveness before applying them. Where control is largely ‘by exception’ displays must be designed to enable the operator to obtain the necessary information for effective control in adequate time. Training may include drills for the allocation of tasks between operators, as with CRM (Cockpit Resource Management) in civil aviation.

This paper originally appeared in “Advances in Multimedia and simulation. Human-Machine-Implications” Ed. Klaus-Peter Holtzhausen – Fachhochschule Bochum, University of Applied Sciences ISBN 3-00-002435-2 Copyright 1997 The authors and Fachhochschule Bochum

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