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The Effects of Workload and Decision Support Automation on Enroute R-Side and D-Side Communication Exchanges
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OKLAHOMA CITY OK CIVIL AEROMEDICAL INST
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The Federal Aviation Administration FAA is introducing new decision aid technology, called decision support tools DSTs, into the air traffic control ATC workforce. Although considerable research has focused on the effects that DSTs will have on pilot-controller communications, relatively little research has been conducted on how DSTs will affect controller-controller communications. In this study, we examined the effects that aircraft density and different types of DSTs have on the communication exchanges occurring within en route ATC teams. Two hypotheses guided the research. Hypothesis 1 More communication exchanges will occur under high workload conditions, as compared with low workload conditions. Hypothesis 2 More communication exchanges will occur when using DSTs, as compared with not using DSTs. Method. Eight 2-person teams, consisting of certified ATC specialists from an en route center, participated in a decision support automation research experiment. In the experiment communication exchanges of team members were assessed within a 2 aircraft density X 3 type of DST repeated measures design. Communications were analyzed by an ATC subject matter expert using an FAA ATC communication taxonomy consisting of three categories the topic of communication, the grammatical form of communication, and the mode of communication. Results. A total of 3,194 communication events were coded. Partial support was achieved for hypothesis 1. When communications were analyzed as a composite number, no statistically significant results were observed. However, when the categories were analyzed separately, main effects for aircraft density were observed for two communication topics general communications about a specific aircraft, F1,5 11.25. p .05, and communications involving altitude changes, F1,5 10.66, P .05. In both cases, there were more communications associated with the high-aircraft-density condition.
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