pilots and, in the extreme, some spectacular incidents and accidents (Hughes and Dornheim, 1995). The great potential for precise, safe, and economical flight has been marred by these events. It is essential that the same mistakes not be made in the implementation of the next generation of air traffic management systems.

One of the problems that must be confronted is the incompatibility between the new flight management system aircraft and the geographic and spatial constraints of the current air traffic control system, which is not compatible with the flight management system-equipped aircraft. The full potential of the flight management system cannot be exploited in today's air traffic control environment. Put simply, the planes are far more sophisticated than the ground-based systems, resulting in suboptimal use of the vehicle. This problem may be resolved when advanced air traffic management systems come online in the next decade. This may solve the problem of "impedance mismatch" between the vehicle and the ground-based systems, allowing more nearly optimal use of the flight management system and conservation not only of fuel, but also of that one, irreplaceable asset—airspace.


In this section we discuss key elements of the flight information processing system, as well as the human factors aspects of the presentation of flight information to controllers.

Flight Information Processing

Before complete flight information can be presented to controllers, flight plan and radar information must be acquired by the system, processed, and associated with each other. Figure 4.1 illustrates the key elements of the flight information processing and display system that supports the en route and terminal facilities. Primary elements of the system are the HOST computer, which provides processed flight plan information to terminal facilities and both radar and flight plan information to en route facilities, and the ARTS system, which processes radar data and associates them with HOST-provided flight plan information for terminal facilities.

HOST Processing

The HOST computer is divided into two systems, the flight data processor (FDP) and the radar data processor (RDP). The flight data processor provides flight planning analysis and automatically distributes flight progress strips to air route traffic control center (ARTCC) sectors and to towers and TRACONs through flight strip printers. The flight data processor takes flight plain input from the air traffic controllers and from aircraft users; determines the time it will take

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