Helicopter pilots' views of air traffic controller responsibilities: A mismatch

Dan Martin, Jim Nixon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    25 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Controllers and pilots must work together to ensure safe and efficient helicopter flight within the London control zone. Subjective ratings of pilot perception of controller responsibility for five key flight tasks were obtained from thirty helicopter pilots. Three types of airspace were investigated. Results indicate that there is variation in pilot understanding of controller responsibility compared to the formal regulations that define controller responsibility. Significant differences in the perception of controller responsibility were found for the task of aircraft separation in class D airspace and along helicopter routes. Analysis of the patterns of response suggests that task type rather than the airspace type may be the key factor. Results are framed using the concept of a shared mental model. This research demonstrates that pilots flying in complex London airspace have an expectation of controller responsibility for certain flight tasks, in certain airspace types that is not supported by aviation regulation. Practitioner Summary: The responsibility for tasks during flight varies according to the flight rules used and airspace type. Helicopter pilots may attribute responsibility to controllers for tasks when controllers have no responsibility as defined by regulation. This variation between pilot perceptions of controller responsibility could affect safety within the London control zone.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)268-276
    Number of pages9
    JournalErgonomics
    Volume62
    Issue number2
    Early online date21 Feb 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Practitioner Summary

    The responsibility for tasks during flight varies according to the flight rules used and airspace type. Helicopter pilots may attribute responsibility to controllers for tasks when controllers have no responsibility as defined by regulation. This variation between pilot perceptions of controller responsibility could affect safety within the London control zone.

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ergonomics on 13th Feb 2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/00140139.2018.1440635

    Keywords

    • Transportation safety
    • air traffic controller
    • helicopter
    • shared mental model

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Human Factors and Ergonomics
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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