Human-machine interfaces in distributed work systems provide external problem representations that activate the cognitive processes people use to perform their work. Appropriate design of such representations is an important factor in supporting complex work. In air and surface traffic management, problems are typically framed according to airspace constraints even for practitioners whose domain is the airport surface. Constraints are passed from the en route and terminal domains to the surface in the form of airspace constraints, with the displays available to Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) personnel communicating these constraints in airspace terms. However, ATCT personnel use a different mental model to manage departures. An exploratory study found that ATCT personnel very quickly transform airspace-centric constraints into surface-centric constraints, while still discussing the constraints with en route and terminal traffic managers using airspace-centric terms. They must continually perform such transformations due to the representation of the information provided to them.
Smith, P. J.,
& Evans, M.
(2015). Individual Problem Representations in Distributed Work. 18th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 336-341.