The Impact of Multi-layered Data-blocks on Controller Performance
Author(s)Cummings, M.L.; Tsonis, C.; Rader, A.
As a consequence of the push to increase National Airspace System capacity, air traffic control displays will not only have to show the increasing number of aircraft, but also all the associated data such as airspeed and altitude. The representation of aircraft data and associated relational information, often superimposed on a map, leads to cluttered displays, which could negatively affect controller performance, especially as aircraft numbers increase. To investigate these issues further, an experiment was conducted that examined the effect of increasing data-block lines on controller performance in an aircraft vectoring task. Data-block design, the primary factor, varied in the number of lines displayed (2-5). In addition a data-block information priority factor was examined that addressed the frequency of information access across data-block lines. Results demonstrated that while task load, measured as an increasing number of planes under control, negatively influenced reaction times and task accuracy, the number of lines in a data block was not statistically significant. However there was a trend towards reduced performance when data-blocks exceeded more than three lines on a base layer. In addition, the data blocks that contained prioritized information across levels promoted faster reaction times, but at a cost of lower situation awareness. This research demonstrated that the design of data-blocks should consider the balance between reduction in data-block interaction time against the need to allow enough interaction time to build situation awareness.
Air Traffic Control Quarterly
Cummings, M.L., Tsonis, C., & A. Rader, The Impact of Multi-layered Data-blocks on Controller Performance, Air Traffic Control Quarterly, 16(2), 2008.
National Airspace System, air traffic control, controller performance