Human factors requirements for an En Route and TRACON common automation platform
Jerry Crutchfield, Ph.D. (PDF)

The systems in use by today’s air traffic controllers were developed primarily to meet the requirements of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) environment in which they were to be implemented. En route displays were not developed to support Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) functions and neither were TRACON displays developed to support en route functions even though certain functions, such as air traffic surveillance, are common to both. The implications of having unique systems in the different ATC domains include higher costs and inefficiencies with regard to training personnel, acquiring equipment, and system maintenance.

For the purpose of optimizing efficiency, the FAA is currently planning for the development and implementation of a possible single workstation configuration or Common Automation Platform (CAP) that will provide the information and functional capabilities needed for both en route and TRACON air traffic control tasks as needed. It is believed that proposed changes associated with the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) efforts could facilitate the implementation of a CAP whereas it could not have been accomplished in the past.

The development of the CAP requires human factors input, including en route and TRACON controller information requirements, suggestions for how the en route and TRACON displays and interfaces can be converged without making controller tasks more difficult, and evaluations of the usability of alternate design features. This task involves providing this input for CAP development. Human factors specialists at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) have been providing this type of input to the design of air traffic control procedures and technologies since 1961.

The overall objective of this task is to provide human factors guidance, in the form of requirements, to the development of a CAP workstation for NextGen en route and TRACON functions. Eleven sub-tasks will be completed:
  1. collect available en route and TRACON controller workstation requirements including functionality and information requirements, prioritize the requirements by when they are expected to be needed during the implementation of NextGen, and apportion them for use in the development of a series of simulated prototype workstations;
  2. contract with simulation developers to create a series of simulated prototype workstations based on the above requirements;
  3. build the first version of the workstation;
  4. perform human-in-the-loop evaluations of the first version of the workstation;
  5. document the information requirements that result from the literature review and evaluations; and
  6. (steps 6-11) iterate through the building, evaluation, and documentation of results for two more versions of the simulated prototype workstations.