Artificial Intelligence for Evaluating the Mental Workload of Air Traffic Controllers

Artificial Intelligence for Evaluating the Mental Workload of Air Traffic Controllers

Tetiana Shmelova, Yuliya Sikirda
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1052-0.ch009
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In this chapter, the authors propose the application of artificial intelligence (namely expert system and neural network) for estimating the mental workload of air traffic controllers while working at different control centers (sectors): terminal control center, approach control center, area control center. At each air traffic control center, air traffic controllers will perform the following procedures: coordination between units, aircraft transit, climbing, and descending. So with the help of the artificial intelligence (AI) and its branches expert system and neural network, it is possible to estimate the mental workload of dispatchers for a different number of aircraft, compare the workload intensity of the air traffic control sectors, and optimize the workload between sectors and control centers. The differentiating factor of an AI system from a standard software system is the characteristic ability to learn, improve, and predict. Real dispatchers, students, graduate students, and teachers of the National Aviation University took part in these researches.
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Air transport industry plays a major role in the world economic activity and to maintain a safe and efficient operation of aviation enterprises. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in its recent documents extended and defined new approaches for achieving the main goals of ICAO that is, enhancing the effectiveness of the global aviation security and improving the practical and sustainable implementation of preventive aviation security measures such as the development of security culture and human capability, improving and enhancing technological resources, oversight and quality assurance, etc. (ICAO, 2018). The Artificial Intelligence (AI) document “White paper” of IATA (International Air Transport Association) presents the results of IATA research and development activities on AI in collaboration with airlines. The new technologies of AI can be clustered in the following capabilities, such as: Machine learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Expert Systems, Vision, Speech, Planning, Robotics (IATA, 2016).

The efficiency and safety of the operation of the systems depend to a high degree on the quality of a human operator’s decisions that in its turn is guided by the factors of education, competence, working conditions, experience, and versatility of application of modern-day information and data processing technologies and others. So it is necessary for aviation to maximize the use of new technology such as AI. The authors offer the application of Artificial Intelligence (Expert System and Neural Network) for estimating the mental workload of air traffic controllers while working at different control centers (sectors).

The following can be said about the advantages of Aviation and Air Traffic Control (ATC). Aviation became an independent part of a human being. Over the last decades, there is a tendency of increase of air traffic flows over the world. Also, aviation is a vital part of the increasingly globalized world economy, facilitating the growth of international trade, tourism, and international investment, and connecting people across continents. Air traffic is a many-sided process:

  • Cargo transfer;

  • Private aviation;

  • Passenger transfer;

  • Flight training;

  • Business aviation;

  • Air show;

  • Search and rescue service;

  • Testing flights;

  • Military flights.

Key Terms in this Chapter

European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol): Is an international organization working to achieve safe and seamless air traffic management across Europe.

Air Traffic Service (ATS): A generic term meaning variously, flight information service, alerting service, air traffic advisory service, air traffic control service (area control service, approach control service or aerodrome control service).

Expert Judgment Method (EJM): Is the procedure for obtaining an assessment of the problem based on the opinion of specialists (experts) for the purpose of subsequent decision making (choice).

Area Control Center (ACC): Is a facility responsible for controlling aircraft flying in a particular volume of airspace (a Flight Information Region) at high altitudes between airport approaches and departures.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.

Air Traffic Management (ATM): The dynamic, integrated management of air traffic and airspace including air traffic services, airspace management, and air traffic flow management—safely, economically, and efficiently—through the provision of facilities and seamless services in collaboration with all parties and involving airborne and ground-based functions.

Expert system (ES): Is a computer system that emulates the decision-making ability of a human expert.

Zones of Airspace: 1. Control Zone (CTR): A controlled airspace extending upwards from the surface of the earth to a specified upper limit. 2. Terminal Control Area (TMA): A control area normally established at the confluence of ATS Routes in the vicinity of one or more major aerodromes. 3. Control Area (CTA): A controlled airspace extending upwards from a specified limit above the earth to a specified upper limit.

Decision Support System (DSS): Is the interactive computer system intended to support different types of activity during the decision making including poorly structured and unstructured problems.

Artificial Intelligence System (AIS): Was a distributed computing project undertaken by Intelligence Realm, Inc. with the long-term goal of simulating the human brain in real time, complete with artificial consciousness and artificial general intelligence.

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs): Are the coordinators of the movement of aircraft to maintain safe distances between them. Air traffic controllers typically do the following: monitor and direct the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air; control all ground traffic at airport runways and taxiways; issue landing and takeoff instructions to pilots; transfer control of departing flights to other traffic control centers and accept control of arriving flights; inform pilots about weather, runway closures, and other critical information; alert airport response staff in the event of an aircraft emergency.

Aircraft (ACFT): Is a flying vehicle maintained in the atmosphere due to interaction with air, other than interaction with air reflected from the earth surface or water.

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