An Index of Dynamic Density.


Smith, K., Scallen, S.F., Knecht, W., & Hancock, P.A. (1998). An index of dynamic density. Human Factors, 40(1), 69-78.

The risk of a collision between aircraft is rising as the density of commercial air traffic increases. This trend, together with the overwhelming need to upgrade the National Airspace System, has motivated the Federal Aviation Administration to sponsor the development of metrics to evaluate “dynamic density”–a proxy for the likelihood of collision risk. This paper proposes and evaluates a mathematical index of dynamic density, D, that describes collision risk. Although the domain of investigation is aviation, the logic of D is applicable whenever objects move in limited spaces. A series of sensitivity analyses illustrate how D responds to frequently encountered air traffic conflict situations. A use of D is illustrated that characterizes pilot performance and efficiency in experimental simulations of free flight, and other human factors applications are suggested. This research could be applied immediately by the traffic management units of en-route air traffic control centers to reformulate the criterion for the critical capacity of sectors.

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