Pilot designation and dedesignation of traffic targets to the autoflight system

Amy R. Pritchett, Rachel A. Haga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined flight crewdesignation and dedesignation of target aircraft, with the objective of assessing flight crews’ responses to errors in coupled operations: errors that may be caused by the flight crew, or that may originate outside the flight crew but then need to be detected and resolved by them. The study examined two potential air traffic operations selected to be representative of operations that couple traffic information to the autoflight system: advanced flight-deck intervalmanagement and closely spaced parallel operations. Both of these operations couple the autoflight to a traffic target designated by the flight crew, such that the autoflight systemcommands a flight path relative to this other aircraft. Twelve pilots each flew 12 scenarios in an integrated flight-deck/air traffic control simulation facility. Each scenario had a pitfall representing foreseeable conditions conducive to error by the flight crew or the air traffic controller, and requiring flight crew intervention. Although some of these events were easily identified and resolved by the participants, others were not, creating conditions where the operations were not performed as desired. These results highlighted the need for pilot training, operational procedures that changed the roles of the flight deck and air traffic control, and flight-deck systems used to designate targets for these types of operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Air Transportation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Safety Research
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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