Publication Date

Spring 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Industrial and Systems Engineering


Kevin Jordan


Airspace, Delegated Separation, NextGen, UAS, UAV, Unmanned Aircraft System

Subject Areas

Experimental psychology


The purpose of this thesis was to determine the feasibility of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) performing delegated separation in the national airspace system (NAS). Delegated separation is the transfer of responsibility for maintaining separation between aircraft or vehicles from air navigation service providers to the relevant pilot or flight operator. The effects of delegated separation and traffic display information level were collected through performance, workload, and situation awareness measures.

The results of this study showed benefits related to the use of conflict detection alerts being shown on the UAS operator's cockpit situation display (CSD) and to the use of full delegation. Overall, changing the level of separation responsibility and adding conflict detection alerts on the CSD were not found to have an adverse effect on performance as shown by the low amounts of losses of separation. The use of conflict detection alerts on the CSD and full delegation responsibilities given to the UAS operator were found to create significantly reduced workload, significantly increased situation awareness and significantly easier communications between the UAS operator and air traffic controller without significantly increasing the amount of losses of separation.