Pilot Visual Acquisition of Traffic: Operational Communications from Air Traffic Control Operational Communication
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Pilot Visual Acquisition of Traffic: Operational Communications from Air Traffic Control Operational Communication

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  • Alternative Title:
    Pilot visual acquisition of traffic : operational communications from OpEval-1.
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    Avionics devices designed to provide pilots with graphically displayed traffic information will enable pilots to acquire and verify the identity of any intruder aircraft within the general area, either before or in accordance with a controller-issued traffic advisory or alert. A preliminary evaluation was performed of an airborne capability to display traffic information (OpEval-1, July 1999). As part of that evaluation, audiotapes were analyzed of the communications between pilots flying aircraft equipped with a cockpit display of traffic information (CDTI) and terminal radar approach controllers, who provided them with air traffic services. The results revealed that pilots and controllers participated more frequently in collaborative communications that resulted in a reduction in radio-frequency congestion and improved overall communications. Pilot persistence in scanning for traffic called by air traffic control (ATC) — especially when that traffic was readily visible on the CDTI display, but not out the window — may have led to more responsive traffic reports, increases in positive visual acquisitions, and consequently proportionally fewer pilot reports of "negative contact." Only 4% of the pilots' and controllers' messages revealed communication problems such as inaccuracies, procedural deviations, and non-routine transactions. Information load, the novelty of pilot-initiated traffic calls, access to and knowledge of the traffic call sign by pilots, as well as the variability in ATC message structure each contributed to the occurrence of communication problems. The voice tape analyses suggest that new procedures and operational communications will be needed to support CDTI and guidance in collaborative decision-making involving air-ground traffic flow management. Whenever any new system, technology, capability, or application is evaluated prior to implementation in a well-defined environment such as the National Airspace System, the importance of pilot and controller communication training to overcome the interference effects of past experiences with ATC communication will need to be included as part of a comprehensive plan towards implementation.
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