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First findings on the controller's mental model in sectorless air traffic management

: Birkmeier, B.; Korn, B.; Flemisch, F.O.


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -IEEE-; American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics -AIAA-, Washington/D.C.:
IEEE/AIAA 30th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, DASC 2011 : 16 - 20 Oct. 2011, Seattle
Piscataway: IEEE, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-612-84797-9
ISBN: 978-1-61284-798-6
Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) <30, 2011, Seattle>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer FKIE ()

In sectorless air traffic management the airspace is considered as one piece instead of partitioning it into sectors. The air traffic controllers are no longer in charge of sectors but are given responsibility for a certain number of aircraft during their entire flight. This entails that the controller has to keep track of several different traffic situations geographically spread out over a potentially large area. Of course, such a considerable change of concept has implications on the controllers' mental model and the way conflicts are solved. This paper describes the shift of the controller's mental model away from one geographically limited view with long-term planning to several global views with short-term planning. It is illustrated how this altered mental model also implies changes of the controller's tasks and conflict solving. Real-time simulations within DLR's LRM2020 project have shown that working with a sectorless concept is possible and feasible if the co ntroller is supported by suitable conflict detection. The details and results of these simulations are given and the effects of the altered mental model are analyzed. It is furthermore explained how a sectorless concept could change controller work away from controller teams consisting of executive and planner to a one-person workplace supported by a conflict detection. At the same time the principle that two pairs of eyes are better than one is retained. The controller's tasks are not reduced to monitoring jobs but the essential conflict avoidance task remains.