Air Traffic Organization Policy

JO 7210.3
Effective Date:
April 3, 2014
Subject:  Facility Operation and Administration

Section 9. Color Displays-Terminal


Color use on terminal systems was developed jointly with the Terminal Safety and Operations Support Office and the Terminal Automation Human Factors Team. This section provides guidelines on the use of color on ATC displays through a national standard for terminal air traffic displays. These guidelines are intended to standardize the use of colors across the terminal systems. Any use outside these guidelines must be developed jointly with the Terminal Safety and Operations Support Office, the appropriate Service Area Director, and the Terminal Automation Human Factors Team. All use of color on ATC displays must fall within these guidelines, except for MEARTS:

a. Whenever color capabilities exist, the following National Color Standard for Terminal Systems must be installed:

1. Background must be black.

2. Point out identifier blinking or steady must be yellow.

3. Compass Rose, range rings, maps A and B must be dim gray.

4. Coordination rundown list as follows:

(a) Unsent must be green.

(b) Unacknowledged must be blinking green.

(c) Acknowledged must be steady green.

5. Geographic restriction border, fill, and text must be yellow.

6. Data blocks owned must be white.

7. Limited or partial data blocks unowned must be green.

8. Search target symbol must be blue.

9. Beacon target extent must be green.

10. History trails must be blue.

11. Predicted track line must be white.

12. Minimum separation line must be white.

b. Whenever color is used to identify critical information it must be used with another method of notification such as blinking.

c. Cultural color conventions which cannot be violated include red for danger and yellow for warning.

d. The color pure blue should not be used for text, small symbols, other fine details, or as a background color.

e. Ensure all colors that are used including text and symbols are presented in sufficient contrast.

f. Ensure no more than two colors are assigned to a single data block.

g. Use of color in general should be kept to a minimum. When color is used to denote a specific meaning, e.g., yellow means caution, the number of colors used on a single display must be no more than six and should be constrained to the primary colors of red, yellow, green, blue, orange, and cyan. The optimum number of colors used for coding should be limited to four.

h. The specific colors that are selected for a display must take into account the ambient environment and the capabilities of the specific monitor.

i. Any implementation of color is to be tested in the context and environment to which it was designed.

j. Color use needs to be consistent across all of the displays that a single controller will use.

k. Facility air traffic managers must make all requests for any color changes to color baseline through the Director, Terminal Safety and Operations Support.

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