The aviation industry evolves all the time in every possible sphere with new the technology that is advancing and the increasing amount of traffic on the airports. The air traffic control services has come a long way with automated systems and more advanced technology and the work of the air traffic controller (ATCO) has become more efficient to meet the higher demands for more traffic. But along with highly automated systems and work efficiency there can be a lack of safety instead if there is too much to do for the controller. A new concept in the aviation industry is developing; multiple remote towers, which means that one ATCO can be several miles away from the airports and handle two or more airports at the same time from the same work station. The air traffic controllers has to monitor the aircrafts, direct the traffic, make decisions and make sure that the pilots follows the instructions. At the same time the ATCO need to monitor the systems as well, making sure that everything is working as it is supposed to. To be able to maintain a safe environment for the controllers and the aircrafts, on and surrounding the runways, the controllers need to have situation awareness and the system they are working within need to be resilient to be able to cope with the different kind of situations that might occur. This study has focused on the role of the ATCO in air traffic control towers and by eye-tracking mapped what the controllers are looking at while handling arrivals in two different air traffic control towers. An episode analysis was made on several episodes that took place during different kinds of conditions in the two different air traffic control tower simulators, one single tower simulator and one multiple remote tower simulator. Patterns in the controllers’ way of handling arrivals were identified and the results from the controllers’ eye-movements shows that the ATCOs have a habitual behaviour pattern and that for almost every arrival they will act in the same way. The ATCO in the single tower simulator used the air radar several times during the episodes while in the multiple remote tower simulator the ATCOs almost never looked at the air radar. The radio was used more by the controllers in the multiple remote tower than in the single tower and it is discussed if this is something that can take too much time from an ATCO in a multiple remote tower. The results also highlights the importance of the strip-table, a tool used by the controllers during every step of the arrival process. The conclusions are that the system (controllers and non-human agents) has situation awareness and that the air traffic controllers have a clear frame of the situation. The results from this study can be seen as a guideline and a start for further research in this field and for the development of multiple remote towers. Further research should investigate in the controllers’ ability of reframing in situations of runway incursions and other unexpected events and the usage of the radio in multiple remote towers.

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Published on 01/01/2015

Volume 2015, 2015
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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