J11.2 An Interactive Training Approach to Support the Operational use of Air Traffic Management Convective Weather Decision Support Tools

Monday, 24 January 2011: 4:15 PM
305 (Washington State Convention Center)
Michael Robinson, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and J. Evans

Adverse weather is the most significant cause of air traffic delays in the National Airspace System. Over the years, various weather decision support tools (DSTs) have been developed and fielded to aid traffic managers in mitigating weather impacts on air traffic operations. An impediment that prevents effective operational use of new DSTs is that traffic managers tend to solve problems by attempting to relate the current situation to prior problem scenarios, using only established decision support information that has been incorporated into existing problem solving approaches, rather than considering new DST information.

Studies of naturalistic decision-making in difficult situations, such as air traffic management during severe weather, where the environment requires that high-stakes decisions be made quickly with limited or uncertain information, suggest that DSTs offer significant assistance only after:

(a) users have a thorough understanding of the new DST strengths and weaknesses, as well as the areas of uncertainty associated with tool and the new information,

(b) users have become experienced in recognizing relevant DST cues and decision leverage points, have developed a “mental library” of past situations and actions with the new tool, and can include new DST information when they work out solutions to problems, and

(c) operational users determine that the tool is in fact useful for their decision making, and have an opportunity to provide input/prioritization on DST enhancements.

To meet these goals in as short a time period as possible, DST providers and operational decision-makers need to work together after tool deployment in the field, through interactive training and in situ tool-usage assistance, to ensure that (a) - (c) above are achieved more quickly.

MIT Lincoln Laboratory has deployed several DSTs to enhance traffic flow management (TFM) efficiency during severe weather events. As part of the deployment of the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) and the New York and Chicago Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT), an interactive training program was employed that focused on live training and demonstration sessions in a small-classroom setting, and routine in situ user assistance and tool-use assessment. Through these efforts, traffic managers developed DST expertise more quickly than with more conventional training procedures, DST enhancements were explicitly driven by operational user needs, and TFM problem-solving using the new DST became largely intuitive — all of which resulted in significant delay reduction and productivity enhancement benefits.

In this paper, details will be provided of how live training with small user groups and in situ user assistance improved the abilities of traffic managers to use DSTs when devising weather impact mitigation plans. Examples will be presented where adaptations to user training and an incremental approach to collaboratively developing concepts of operation for weather DSTs that account for the air traffic problem space and decision-making constraints resulted in increased tool usage and benefits.

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