Operational Environment

Operational Environment

Air traffic controllers are generally considered one of the working groups having to deal with a highly demanding job. In fact, air traffic control entails a complex set of tasks requiring very high levels of knowledge and
expertise, as well as the practical application of specific skills pertaining to cognitive domains (e.g. spatial perception, information processing, logic reasoning, decision making), communicative aspects and human relations. (Costa, 1995) It is not surprising that so much attention is given to the Operational Environment in which ATCOs operate, as it has a direct impact on many facets of the job itself: safety, ergonomy, performance and stress management, inter alia.




Costa (1995) identified five aspects of the operational environment that have a significant impact on the performance, behaviour and stress level of the air traffic controller. While the study was primarily targeting stress, these elements can be linked to other facets of the work and affect directly ATM operations:

External socio-economic environment

  • Legislation, international and national directives
  • Social support

Technology and work organization

  • Improving job planning and reliability of the work systems
  • Reduction of working times and arrangement of working teams and rest pauses in relation to the workload
  • Arrangement of shift schedules according to psycho-physiological and social criteria
  • Participation in decision making

Intervention in working place and task structure

  • Improving the work environment
    • Lighting
    • Noise
    • Microclimatic conditions and indoor air quality
  • Arranging workplaces according to ergonomic criteria
    • Workstation design
    • Working with visual displays units
    • Sitting postures

Intervention to improve individual responses and behaviour

  • Individual ways of coping with stress
  • Selection and training
  • Counselling and other supporting measures at company level

Specific intervention for health protection and promotion

  • Appropriate medical surveillance

(Source: Costa, G.: “Occupational stress and stress prevention in air traffic control.” (Geneva, International Labour Office (ILO), 1995).


What falls under Operational Environment?

With such a large array of areas of interest, the Operational Environment domain is vast. As regards air traffic control, it encompasses inter alia the following aspects:

  • Professional and industrial relations;
  • Minimum service;
  • Single / Lone Person Operations (SPO);
  • Four Eyes Principle (4EP);
  • Performance Indicators;
  • Cognitive processes in ATC;
  • Working environments and ATC systems;
  • Automation / Human factors;
  • Duty rosters, work and rest schemes, vacation scheme, extra duty, extended duty and staffing
  • Remuneration principles, early retirement and retirement;
  • Regulatory framework in ATM.

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Operational Environment


Last Update: May 31, 2020  

October 27, 2019   67   superman    WIKI  

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