Task Demand and Response Error in a Simulated Air-Traffic Control Task: Implications For Ab Initio Training

Murphy, L.L., Smith, K., & Hancock, P.A. (2004). Task demand and response error in a simulated air-traffic control task: Implications for ab initio training. International Journal of Applied Aviation Studies4(1), 91-106.

This study investigated the relationship between task demand and the occurrence of error in an experimental stimulation, which represented dynamic En-Route air traffic control. Participants were trained to baseline performance in the air traffic control task and then were presented with a series of 12 challenging but realistic scenarios. These scenarios were scripted to create two cycles of three levels of task demand as presented by traffic count. conflict opportunities were scripted into each level of traffic count of six conflicts per scenario. Errors of omission were found to be equally likely when traffic count decreased from a peak as during a peak itself. This empirical finding was consistent with real-world experiences as reported in testimonial accounts by professional air traffic controllers. Given the restricted number of participants and their relative inexperience, we consider the present work to be an initial window into a highly complex issue. Our present findings have implications for ab initio training of air traffic controllers and also relate to performance in all operational domains, which demand flawless response from process control agents.

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