Identifying Markers of Performance Decline in Air Traffic Controllers
Authors: Tamsyn Edwards, a Sarah Sharples a, Barry Kirwan b, John Wilson a, Nora Balfe c
Abstract: Air traffic control (ATC) is a safety critical environment in which air traffic controllers (ATCOs) must maintain a consistently high standard of human performance in order to maintain safety. It is therefore essential to understand the impact, of human factors such as workload on human performance. Traditionally, a wide range of methods have been utilized to investigate the association between performance-influencing factors and human performance, from experimental to research in the wild (Sharples et al., 2012). However, little research has focused on the identification of ‘signs and symptoms’, or indicators, that a factor may be negatively influencing human performance. The aim of this study was to identify indicators that were commonly associated with specific factors (workload, stress and situation awareness) and the associated influences on human performance. Findings identified internal and external, observable indicators that were common across all controllers and signified when ATCO performance was threatened. Findings also suggest that controllers use internal markers to adapt control strategies in order to maintain performance. Findings have relevance for existing aviation training, online measurement of performance during live operations, and measurements during simulations. Further research should investigate the application of indicators in measurement of live operations.
Keywords: Air Traffic Control, Observation, Behavioural Markers, Human Performance, Workload, Stress, SA
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