Traffic Control (ATC) is a safety-critical system which places high demands on air traffic controllers’ (ATCO) multitasking abilities. Having the requisite information for well-informed decision making is central, and as new technologies such as remote towers demand an increase in capacity, efficiency, and safety there is a need for research that informs system development. Adopting a systems perspective, Distributed Cognition is an approach for investigating system functioning, and Resilience Engineering is a way of observing safety factors in everyday work. The purpose of this study is to understand how air traffic controllers work from a distributed cognition perspective, and manage safety in everyday tasks from a resilience perspective. Six observations and six interviews were conducted in a Swedish control tower. The data was analyzed using Distributed Cognition for Teamwork (DiCoT) and Resilience markers (REM), which both focus on the transformation and propagation of information. The results of DiCoT show how cognitive processes in ATCO work are supported in models of physical layout, artefacts, information flow, social organization, and evolutionary design. The results of REM show potential for resilience enhancing behavior in several episodes of ATCO work. Moreover, the results suggest that methods such as DiCoT and REM may work well in the ATC domain, as well as complementary to each other. The results may be used for informing system development, and enable a before-and-after study as the control tower of study will be transformed into a remote tower.

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Published on 01/01/2016

Volume 2016, 2016
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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