traffic service providers are increasingly embracing electronic alternatives to the traditional paper flight progress strip (FPS). However, most development of such electronic systems, and of decision support tools (DSTs) in general, has centered on radar-based en route or terminal-area facilities, rather than the airport air traffic control tower. Based on an analysis of the unique human factors requirements of the control tower environment, a prototype portable electronic FPS has been designed that also serves as an interface to a DST for departure operations. The portable electronic FPS has been implemented using a system of networked, handheld computers as prototype hardware. A study has been conducted to evaluate the usability of the portable electronic FPS. The study consisted of a human-in-the-loop experiment that simulated the tasks an air traffic controller performs at a major airport. Three issues were explored: the importance of FPS portability, the appropriateness of departure sequence DST advisories distributed onto each portable electronic FPS, and the advantages of interaction mechanisms enabled by an electronic interface. Test subjects used multiple versions of the portable electronic FPS as well as a current-day paper FPS. Quantitative measures of departure sequencing efficiency and traffic monitoring ability were recorded for each test subject, as well as subjective FPS preference rankings. This paper reviews the final design and prototype implementation of the portable electronic FPS, presents the design and results of the usability study, and suggests future research that should be pursued in order to create an operationally deployable portable electronic FPS system.
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