Enhancing the manual ATC control process
The limitations in en-route Air Traffic Control today are generally accepted as being the workload and performance of the controller. This method of operation is known as the 'manual control process'. The manual control process is an open loop form of control, that relies heavily on controller judgement and decision making. Future developments in ATC, that use twoway datalink, and integrate air and ground systems, are expected to be delayed. This leaves the manual control process to manage the projected growth in air transport demand. An analysis was carried out of the manual control process on two sectors at the London Area & Terminal Control Centre at West Drayton. Particular attention was given to understanding complexity, the functions that controllers perform, decision making and information sources. A systems approach was taken to the analysis and used multidisciplinary research techniques. The study used naturalistic data collection. Both the ground and airborne systems were reviewed, and developments found within them, that can benefit the control process. An analysis of incidents in en-route ATC was also conducted. Proposals are made that can support an enhanced control process. These were modelled, and the results indicated that reductions in controller workload are attainable. The changes to the control process involve more close control of the vertical plane, and improved and more precise information being made available to the controller. It is suggested that aircraft flight management systems are used as a control tool, and system requirements are proposed.