Physiological Stress in Air Traffic Controllers: A Review,
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON DC OFFICE OF AVIATION MEDICINE
Pagination or Media Count:
Ten years of research on physiological stress in air traffic control specialists ATCSs is reviewed. Data were derived from 20 tasks involving the experimental variables of workload, shift-rotation patterns, and automation. Laboratories at the Civil Aeromedical Institute consisted of a survey of the quantity and quality of sleep in working ATCSs, a restudy of ATCSs several years after the first study to appraise stress change, and experimental attempts to evoke a differential response to two different qualities of stress. Stress was distinctly related to imposed workload as well as to working conditions. Differences in stress levels in ATCSs on different shift-rotation patterns were minimal. Automation gave rise to increased total stress accounted for by an increased workload incident to the changeover period from annual to computerized control techniques. A stress index was developed to facilitate comparison of physiological stress at the different air traffic control ATC facilities and among ATCSs. Anxiety level measurements vary minimally from facility to facility indicating little impact of ATC work on the physchological state of ATCs. These and other measures show that it is clearly inappropriate to describe ATC work, as is commonly done in the popular press, as being unusually stressful.
- Stress Physiology