Observed Heuristics and Biases in Air Traffic Management Decision Making Using Convective Weather Uncertainty

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 9:30 AM
Georgia Ballroom 3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Bill Gibbons, Washington, DC; and J. Jonsson, S. Abelman, and R. Bass
Manuscript (307.8 kB)

General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), under contract to the Federal Aviation Administration, performed a research study to assess how convective weather forecast uncertainty information is used in today's National Airspace System (NAS) to support air traffic management decisions. GDIT's primary data came from interviews with Traffic Management Unit (TMU) personnel that included Traffic Management Officers; Supervisors, Traffic Management Coordinators; and Traffic Management Coordinators at Air Route Traffic Control Centers, Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities, and air traffic control towers. GDIT also interviewed personnel at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center, Center Weather Service Unit meteorologists, weather information providers, airline personnel, and weather researchers. The study found that while NAS users generally understand that all convective weather observations and forecasts contain uncertainty, they don't fully understand how to use convective weather information that includes uncertainty for decision making in the NAS. In particular, these discussions identified several heuristics and resulting biases in decision making by TMU personnel when using convective weather uncertainty information. Specifically, the heuristics of availability, confirmation, overconfidence, representativeness, anchoring and adjustment; and risk aversion were observed. These heuristics must be taken into account in future next generation air transportation system decision support tools since humans will make the final air traffic management decisions.