ABSTRACT As part of an ongoing research effort intofunctional allocation in a NextGen environment, a controller-in-the-loop studyon ground-based automated separation assurance was conducted at NASA Ames’Airspace Operations Laboratory in February 2010. Participants included six FAAfront line managers, who are currently certified professional controllers andfour recently retired controllers. Traffic scenarios were 15 and 30 minuteslong where controllers interacted with advanced technologies for ground-basedseparation assurance, weather avoidance, and arrival metering. The automationmanaged the separation by resolving conflicts automatically and involvedcontrollers only by exception, e.
g., when the automated resolution would havebeen outside preset limits. Results from data analyses show that workload waslow despite high levels of traffic, Operational Errors did occur but wereclosely tied to local complexity, and safety acceptability ratings varied withtraffic levels. Positive feedback was elicited for the overall concept withdiscussion on the proper allocation of functions and trust in automation.INTRODUCTION The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO)has identified the action area “Air/Ground Functional Allocation” as a highpriority 1.
Its concern is to address the “lack of clarity in the allocationof new functions to the aircraft and flight crew (includes human/automation aswell as avionics/ground automation allocations).” This paper presents resultsfrom a human in the loop (HITL) study in the Airspace Operations Laboratory atNASA Ames Research Center that examined the functional allocation between airtraffic controllers and automation within the concept of ground-based automatedseparation assurance. In a separate publication 2 this ground-based approachto separation management is compared with the approach of airborne separationmanagement investigated at NASA Langley Research Center. In this paper, we first discuss the primary problemof safely doubling or tripling airspace capacity in the next two decades. Next,we describe the approach of allocating many separation assurance functions tothe ground-based automation.
This approach was initially investigated in asequence of part-task studies before the most recent experiment simulated theoperations in a more comprehensive air traffic control environment. Afterpresenting critical elements of this method a set of initial findings relatedto acceptability, safety and workload will be discussed.