Improving aircraft sequencing and separation at a small aircraft transportation system airport Academic Article uri icon


  • Expanding services to some of the 4900 airports not currently served by scheduled air carriers can potentially ease traffic congestion and reduce flight delays at major airports. By developing new avionics and procedures for approach and landing during instrument meteorological conditions, the NASA small aircraft transportation system program demonstrated higher traffic volume general aviation operations at noncontrolled airports, without assistance from air traffic control. This paper proposes revised minimum separations and automated sequencing to help general aviation pilots maintain self-separation and make proper approach timing decisions in a self-controlled airport environment Total holding time is the measure of merit, and evaluation was conducted with multiple pilots flying simultaneously in a real-time distributed simulation environment A rudimentary human factors analysis was also conducted to determine the benefits of shifting some spacing functions from the pilot to the onboard systems, for the purpose of reduction in pilot workload. The effect of increased automation on pilot tracking performance was also measured. Results presented in the paper show that the proposed modifications can provide significant reductions in total holding time, thereby avoiding potential bottlenecks and improving efficiency. Reduction in pilot workload was observed, and low-time pilots exhibited improved tracking performance.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Helbing, K., Spaeth, T., & Valasek, J.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Helbing, Kyle||Spaeth, Theresa||Valasek, John

publication date

  • November 2006