Meet Ben Willems: Human Centered Design

FAA researchers are studying the effects future technologies might have on user performance.

As modernization of the national airspace occurs, operators will start to use new procedures and technologies. So, researchers at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center are proactively working to determine what effects these changes might have on users.

Before implementing new procedures or embracing new technologies, researchers work with end users to determine how the changes might affect workload or training and how experience may affect emerging issues.

Researchers may look at different technologies that air traffic controllers will be using in the next five years. Research may also address how new operating procedures affect controllers, such as the change with data communications from primarily voice-based to text-based communications.

Developers at the Technical Center can build prototypes of technologies in a laboratory environment and people who will be using them can actually operate the prototypes in high-fidelity simulations. Researchers can test and evaluate procedures in laboratory simulations with end users. In the laboratories at the Technical Center, researchers have tools available to measure user reactions objectively. Researchers study the data to determine how well people adapt to the changes.

By anticipating questions before the FAA implements changes and evaluating human responses to these changes, researchers are preparing the FAA for the future.