Pilot-performed in-trail spacing and merging: An experimental study

A. R. Pritchett, L. J. Yankosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Responsibility for the guidance of aircraft in the National Airspace System is currently given largely to the air traffic controller. This study investigated the benefits of having pilots more involved in guidance during two representative air traffic management operations; maintaining in-trail separation and arrival sequencing. This included 12 airline pilots flying arrival routes in a part-task, medium-fidelity simulator, during which they were responsible for attaining and maintaining a commanded relative position within the traffic flow. A variety of cockpit displays of traffic information and procedures were tested, and the pilots' performance was tracked during both nominal and off-nominal traffic situations. Results provide preliminary evidence of the benefit of pilot involvement in the guidance component of these operations. Suggestions are given for modifications to cockpit avionics systems. The need for established air traffic control procedures to provide foreknowledge to the pilots and a structure within which pilots can interact is also highlighted, illustrating that improvements to aircraft guidance within the National Airspace System may benefit from both technical and procedural changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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