Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Factors/Ergonomics


Kevin P. Jordan


air traffic control, coordination, human factors, NextGen, responsibility, separation assurance

Subject Areas

Aerospace Engineering; Industrial Engineering; Experimental Psychology


The subject of the current research is a Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) concept that involves automated separation assurance developed to enable controllers to provide both safe and efficient air traffic services at much higher traffic densities than possible today. The study investigated the issue of how responsibility should be handled between controllers for the resolution of a conflict that is predicted to occur in a sector other than where it was detected. Two possibilities, a De-Conflicting AirPlanes procedure (DCAP) versus a De-Conflicting AirSpace procedure (DCAS), were examined under human-in-the-loop simulations with scripted aircraft conflicts. Results showed that the DCAS procedure was preferred and that participants experienced less verbal coordination and took less time to resolve conflicts. The results, however, did not reveal significant differences among other plane performance metrics between DCAP and DCAS. These results indicate that the demands of NextGen separation assurance might still be met with ownership and coordination procedures (e.g., DCAP) similar to today. Reducing verbal coordination requirements, however, and allowing separation assurance responsibilities to extend more seamlessly across sector boundaries (e.g., DCAS) would evidently be more acceptable to controllers.