The United States Air Traffic Control (ATC) system is designed to provide for the safe and efficient flow of air traffic from origin to destination. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts that traffic levels will continue increasing over the foreseeable future. It is important to identify and reduce the factors that increase ATC complexity because of the potential consequences of errors. This research examined the application of specific information coding techniques to ATC displays as a method of reducing complexity in the en route environment. It tested color coding of (a) aircraft destination airport, (b) overflights, and (c) Special Use Airspace. Eight Certified Professional Controllers participated in the high fidelity, human-in-the-loop simulation. Results indicated that these specific enhancements may improve controller performance and efficiency. However, when we presented all of the enhancements simultaneously, we did not find the beneficial effects that occurred when we tested the enhancements individually. Further research is needed to systematically investigate the application of color to radar displays in the dynamic Air Traffic environment.
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