Redesigning an air traffic
controller workplace

 

Year

2013

Services

Research, UX design, UI design, prototyping, tracking

TESS is a concept for a newly designed air traffic controller workplace. The focus is on internal communication be­tween air traffic controllers and the way they interact with the physical device they use: the flight progress strip.

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01 Redesigning an air traffic controller workplace

There are around 27,000 flight movements in German airspace every day. Monitoring these is the responsibility of the air traffic controllers who work for German Air Navigation Services. Three control systems are used in Germany: a radar system with direct label control, a paperless strip system, and an older system using paper strips. Each system has particular advantages, but the trend is more and more towards digitalisation. Physical flight progress strips are being phased out, and controllers’ work is being made easier with an increasing number of digital aids. So how can you design an air traffic controller workplace so that the benefits of existing systems are united, air traffic control work is assisted in the best possible way, and safety is improved at the same time.

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02 Collaborative work in the team

We worked with air traffic controllers to conduct a comprehensive user survey in air traffic control centres and get qualitative findings about what they need

The flight progress strip is, alongside the radar screen and communication devices, the most important tool used by any air traffic controller. It contains the most important information about each flight.

Collaborative work is inescapable for air traffic controllers, since their work is done in teams of two. Unlike a paperless strip system, a paper strip system supports teamwork and facilitates intuitive, safe working methods. However, a strong digital system which relieves users of thinking processes, reduces their working expertise over time, and gives them the feeling that their contribution is getting less important. The new concept combines the benefits of the digital system’s safety with the analogue system.

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03 Digital work with analogue values

TESS takes a new approach to combining the analogue flight progress strip with a digital working environment. At the heart of this concept for a newly designed air traffic controller workplace is internal communication between air traffic controllers, and physical interaction with the flight progress strip. This consists of a sturdy outer casing and a coloured E-Ink display. This display combines some of the benefits of paper, such as the fact that you can write on it and read it easily, with digitally displayed data. All of the information and communication systems are combined with the necessary work space on acurved screen. This means that interactions that can be done in conjunction with updating the system are made possible.

TESS is a new kind of concept for a physical, ergonomic and concen­tration-­enhancing air traffic controller workplace.

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Picture credit:
DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH