Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wildlife Surveillance Concept Human-in-the-Loop Laboratory Demonstration

DOT/FAA/TC-TN16/45 Mark R. Hale and Anton Koros

Wildlife Surveillance Concept Human-in-the-Loop Laboratory Demonstration

This report evaluates alternative methods for introducing enhanced bird threat information into the Air Traffic Control (ATC) environment. It is part of a larger multifaceted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) effort to reduce significant bird strikes at civil airports nationwide. The FAA Airport Safety Research and Development Section sponsored the Advanced Concept Development and Validation Branch to develop and mature a concept to provide near real-time bird threat information directly to ATC personnel in the Airport Traffic Control Tower (ATCT). Specifically, the Wildlife Surveillance Concept (WiSC) Human-in-the-Loop Laboratory Demonstration focused on evaluating several notional display options for presenting this enhanced information to Certified Professional Controllers (CPCs) in the ATCT environment.

Six CPCs from ATCT facilities traveled to the William J. Hughes Technical Center Research Development Human Factors Laboratory (RDHFL) to participate in this simulation study over the course of 2 weeks in March 2015. Participants were recruited from among the facilities with the most significant bird strike incidents as identified in the FAA National Wildlife Strike Database. The simulation took place in the RDHFL’s ATCT simulator. The simulation environment consisted of the Distributed Environment for Simulation, Rapid Engineering, and Experimentation ATC simulator and the Target Generator Facility. Scenarios were developed with representative Philadelphia International Airport operations and a simplified aircraft traffic mix and volume for use in the simulator.

A total of four research conditions were provided to each participant. Questionnaire data, over-the-shoulder supervisor ratings, and push-to-talk communications related to controller performance and preference using small-sample inferential statistical methods were analyzed. One of the key underlying themes observed regarding WiSC presentation preference was the tradeoff between information quality and the potential impact on workload. The WiSC target condition clearly provided the most accurate, complete, and useful bird threat information to controllers without significantly increasing workload over the baseline ratings. However, workload measures were lower in the WiSC text and WiSC supervisor conditions compared to the baseline and WiSC target condition.

Mark R. Hale and Anton Koros

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