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

Dan Martin, Jim Nixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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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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  • Activities

    • 1 Participation in conference

    Annual Human Factors in Aviation conference

    Dan Martin (Speaker)
    13 Nov 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

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