[MyResearch] Air Traffic Controller and Location Awareness

In a smart paper about the air traffic controller (ATC) strategies to avoid collision between planes, Nunes and Mogford (2003) explain that ATC rely on a mental representation (individual mental model) of the current traffic scenario. This mental model is termed "The Picture".

The ability of the controller to ensure that aircraft are safely separated as they travel from one point to another is dependent on the maintenance of the picture

Two strategies of use of this 'picture' are used : altitude comparison on the one hand and trajectory prediction on the other. I am definitely more interested in Trajectory Prediction since it is bound to spatial awarenes: an ATC has to predict the future trajectory of one aircraft to determine if it is on a converging trajectory with another. The ATC hence has to extrapolate to some future point on the basis of the present heading, speed, alltitude and location.

They oberved and interviewed ATC. They reported that rather than use trajectory prediction based on so many information, they first determine which aircraft is of interest to them. Next they look ahead on the radar screen to find another aircraft that is traveling on relatively the same heading and ascertain the probability that the target aircraft would most likely occupy the saée location at some point in the future.