This paper describes the conceptual design and validation of an air traffic management (ATM) concept and the role the safety and human factors played in this design and validation process. The free flight (FF) concept is characterised by being a direct route concept where the pilots, instead of the air traffic controller, are responsible for the separation assurance. Moving this task to the cockpit has consequences for the man machine interface in the cockpit, which needs to be modified to accommodate this new task (micro level design). On top of that, a set of rules and procedures are required to ensure an efficient and safe traffic flow (macro level design). Both the micro and macro aspect of this design are intertwined and require an accurate tuning to arrive at an overall acceptable solution. Both micro-level (flight simulator) experiments and macro-level (traffic simulations) experiments have been conducted to investigate the feasibility of this concept after optimising the initial conceptual design.
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