Exploring automation in air traffic control decision making

A2URE is an early stage study between NATS and the University of York which is considering the suitable methodology for the development and approval of automation in decision making in Air Traffic Control operations and what changes would be required to operational procedures and policies.

Since January 2021, NATS has been working with one of the University’s PhD researchers to produce three reports setting a framework for introducing automation to air traffic management.

The first report focuses on the current safety assurance process for change in the ATM system and considering how it can be applied to decision-making automation. The second report was aimed at summarising the issues commonly found in controller-automation interactions as identified through a literature review.

The final output is a new methodology for how Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) can approach the design and development of automated decision-making tools while also gathering evidence for safety assurance and validation and verification.

The development of the reports was supported by workshops where NATS experts from safety assurance, validation and human performance departments discussed how some of the current practices identified in the first report can be put into practice when developing an automation decision-making system. The second workshop focused on the methodology developed and refining it through expert input.

The project has helped us understand the current working practices in terms of how automation-decision making tools and systems can be validated as they are designed and developed, as well as understanding how they should be safety assured. It has identified the gaps and opportunities for further research and how we can continue to develop our procedures and policies as we introduce more automation into our operations.

The project was one of the chosen projects to receive support from NATS at the first Research Collaboration Conference in 2019.

Potential benefits

Increased automation

Reduced workload

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