The relationship between air traffic control ratings and essential job ability requirements : thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Aviation degree at School of Aviation, Massey University, New Zealand
The main objective of Air Traffic Control (ATC) is to prevent collisions between aircraft flying in the air or moving on the ground. Pilots must obtain ATC clearance from ATC officers (ATCO) in order to navigate their aircraft safely. There are two categories of rated ATC controllers (i.e., the radar controllers and aerodrome controllers) operating in different environments and using different equipment for ATC. They are required to apply different sets of separation criteria and rules for aircraft separation. Previous research has identified a number of abilities needed for successful on-the-job performance in air traffic controllers. These included memorization and retention of new information, spatial orientation/visualization, the ability to work well in stressful environments, the ability to shift between two or more sources of information, and the ability to combine and organize information. In recent years, one research studied the job ability requirements between Area, Approach and Tower control positions. However, there was no study investigating the relationship between Radar and Aerodrome (i.e., non-radar) ratings and their respective key performance attributes specific to a busy hub airport. This research tests whether there was a difference in key performance attributes of radar and aerodrome controllers working at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). Nine ATC attributes were perceived by Hong Kong controllers as being essential, with situation awareness ranked as the most important ability. A multivariate test using the dependent variables provided no evidence that these nine essential abilities differed between radar and aerodrome controllers. However, this study indicated that there might be differences in sensory abilities between radar and aerodrome controllers in respect of visual colour discrimination and night vision requirements. Operating conditions that could have led to such differences on ability requirements are also discussed. The study revealed the need to improve ATC operating environment, traffic display tools and the desirability of reviewing recruitment criteria and controller training plans in Hong Kong. Further studies may be able to quantify how the implementation of more appropriate selection policies can reduce the cost of training and more appropriately match the expertise of ATC controllers to the tasks they are required to be engaged in.