FAA Human Factors Laboratory Technical Support

Air traffic controller at control panel


Air traffic control (ATC) provides a classic example of expert users interacting with technology in a complex, high-stakes environment. With thousands of flights every day in the U.S., one controller can be responsible for more than a dozen planes at once. To ensure the effectiveness of ATC operations, the FAA Research Development and Human Factors Laboratory (RDHFL) conducts research to develop methods of measuring human performance in the aviation environment, to evaluate longer-term operational concepts, and to develop useful databases and design standards.


ARA was part of the on-site contractor team supporting the Atlantic City FAA Human Factors team. In this role, ARA provided human factors professionals who help conduct research and develop ATC systems from a human-centered perspective. We studied user communities that included air traffic controllers and technical operations specialists who maintain the intricate radar, navigation, communication, and information technology that make up the ATC system.

With the increase of new systems proposed as part of the FAA’s modernization efforts, effective human factors in system and facility design, development, and evaluation has become an area of increased interest, leading to a projected increase in the need for services to support such efforts. ARA’s support helped the FAA fill this gap and provide a better integrated solution to the organization’s human factors needs. ARA’s scope of services included:

  • Designing, developing, and evaluating support for systems and subsystems.
  • Improving human factors design, development, and evaluation capabilities.
  • Program management support.
  • Human factors support for workplace and facility design.


Through ARA’s support, the FAA RDHFL conducted a series of research and development studies to help ensure that systems that include human operators and maintainers perform as effectively and safely as possible.

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