In this study we present results from a high-fidelity simulator study of Air Traffic Controller (ATCo) workload, in which routine and non-routine scenario events are examined. Specifically, we test the ability of a task load metric (Airservices Australia’s Workload Assessment Tool: WAT) to predict controller workload in these situations. In the study, sector was a between-subjects variable and task load a within-subjects variable. Twenty-one professional ATCos worked three 30-minute segments in Airservices Australia’s TAAATS simulator, and rated their workload on a scale from 1 to 10 every two minutes. After each scenario, ATCos reviewed the video and explained their ratings. For the moderately high to high workload scenarios we used, non-routine events did not have the predicted effect on rated workload. The WAT measure predicted 38% of the variance in workload ratings but the best fit of factors in the WAT task load algorithm to rated workload accounted for only 40% of the variance in rated workload. Video-cued recall data indicated a strong influence on workload of anticipated traffic rather than actual traffic on frequency, and a direction of activity to proactive rather than reactive control.
Sanderson, P. M.,
& Neal, A.
(2007). Investigating Sources of Mental Workload Using a High-Fidelity ATC Simulator. 2007 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 618-623.