Air traffic controller workload is considered to be a limiting factor in the growth of air traffic. In this paper a new method of assessing controller task demand load will be developed and tested. Based on the hypothesis that workload is primarily caused by the complexity of the task to be conducted, the concept of the “solution space” is described. For any particular air traffic control problem, the solution space describes the constraints in the environment that limit (and therefore, guide) air traffic controller decisions and actions. The complexity of that particular control problem can then be analyzed by considering the properties of the solution space. The task of merging an aircraft into a stream of other aircraft that fly along a fixed route is considered. An experiment has been conducted in which subjects were instructed to solve merging problem scenarios of varying complexity. After completing each scenario, subjects were asked to rate the task complexity. High correlations are found between several solution space properties and reported complexity.
van Paassen, M.,
& Boering, J.
(2009). Solution Space-Based Complexity Analysis of ATC Aircraft Merging Tasks. 2009 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 172-177.