User experiences and expectations towards automation and safety in air traffic control

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Åsa SvenssonMaximilian Peukert

Abstract: Various forms of advanced automation in air traffic control are being developed to reduce air traffic controller (ATCO) workload, support performance, and increase safety. However, higher levels of automation can negatively affect the ATCO's performance, reduce situation awareness (SA), and the usage of automation also depends on user acceptance. Previous studies have shown that automation can be met with resistance from ATCOs, which might lead to disuse. Thus, this paper continues the exploration of ATCOs' expectations of automation to deeper understand ATCOs’ fears and anticipations. Through a questionnaire, operational ATCOs answered questions regarding their current experiences and future expectations regarding automation extend, safety, SA, and workload. The quantitative analysis shows that automation and workload are expected to increase in the future compared with today and that safety and SA are expected to decrease. Even though the participants highlighted that they do not want to become the backup system to the automation, it is in that direction the development is heading. These are worrying results and something the air traffic management community should see as a wake-up call. A well-calibrated attitude towards automation seems crucial to ensure the best human-automation interplay.

Keywords: Air traffic control, automation, safety, situation awareness, workload, user experience, user acceptance

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002499

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