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NAS (National Airspace System) Human Factors Safety Research Laboratory

Carol Manning, Ph.D., Manager (PDF)

The NAS (National Airspace System) Human Factors Safety Research laboratory conducts an integrated program of research on the relationship of factors concerning individuals, work groups, and organizations as employees perform their jobs. Research is focused on improved person-job fit through hiring, training, and changes to technology. Employees in this laboratory may conduct applied research by conducting job analyses, developing or evaluating psychological and medical assessment methods such as tests and questionnaires, developing individual and group job performance metrics, and establishing scientific evidence of the validity of tests of aerospace personnel and their utility in achieving agency organizational and NAS operational objectives.

Examples of recent research projects include developing and evaluating biographical questionnaires and interview protocols for controllers and Tech Ops personnel, developing and validating methods for placing Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) applicants by option, developing practical color vision tests for ATCS applicants, developing methods to assess ATCS noncognitive aptitudes , updating the Airway Transportation Systems Specialist (ATSS) job task analysis, hosting a Job Analysis Information Database that collects job analysis information for Tech Ops and ATCS employees in an electronic format that can be searched and compared.

Other laboratory employees conduct research on the impacts of advanced technologies on ATCS performance, information transfer and human/machine design by utilizing real-time ATC simulation capabilities to investigate human factors operations concepts. Examples of recent research projects include conducting a strategic job analysis that identifies changes in the abilities and other factors that will be needed by the NextGen controller and development of Common Information Requirements relevant to en route and TRACON ATC so that the systems used by the two domains can be made more similar, or convergent, in the long run.

Still other laboratory employees investigate work environment issues that affect employee job performance such as workload, time on position, age, fatigue, and color perception. These employees conduct field and laboratory research to assess the effectiveness of preventive or remedial actions, procedural or policy changes, or individual strategies and countermeasures to reduce performance decrements and enhance individual and team performance.

Examples of recent research projects include the Air Traffic Instructor's Handbook; a Tower Scanning Summary Report that integrated a review of the research literature, a review of ATC training materials, and input provided by a Visual Scanning Workgroup; a set of operational scenarios that will be used in human factors testing of new NAS technologies and procedures; a web-based database for capturing Job Task Analysis data; development of an ATCS longitudinal training database to answer human factors research questions posed by research sponsors. This research is carried out by networked teams of division employees whose participation varies according to the background and experience required for each project.

Contact Dr. Manning about NAS Human Factors Safety Research

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