Keeping the Human in the loop in the digital ATM era

Supporting the transition to higher automation levels in aviation by addressing, analysing and mitigating the impact of automation on the human performance of Air Traffic Controllers.

PROJECT: STRESS – Human Performance neurometrics toolbox for highly automated systems design


DURATION: 2016 – 2018



STRESS studied the impact of advanced highly automated systems on en-route air traffic controllers’ performance in order to find out the best way to balance the interaction between the human and the machine, adapting the latter to human needs and levels of performance.


The project developed an easy-to-wear band, capable to assess in real time controllers’ mental workload and to show it on a wirelessly connected tablet.


Moreover, using real stress, workload, attention and vigilance data coming from controllers interacting with highly automated system, it also developed a set of guidelines to be applied during the design of automated tool to maximise performance and safety.


Deep Blue is the project scientific and administrative coordinator.


We designed, planned and executed the simulations activities needed to validate the tool for the mental workload assessment in a realistic ATM environment with professional and student controllers.


We used our Human Factors expertise to develop the guidelines for the design of automated tools to maximise performance and safety.


Finally, we are responsible for project communication and results dissemination.


  1. The STRESS tool has been developed and validated for the Air Traffic Control domain needs.
  2. Expertise from different fields fed the project: Deep Blue provided a strong understanding of Human Factors, Sapienza University brought its solid experience in neurophysiologic measurement, ENAC and Anadolu University conveyed deep knowledge of the ATM domain, while EUROCONTROL holds an overall view on what is the strategic agenda for the development of this domain in the upcoming years.
  3. The tool and guidelines produced by STRESS will support tower controllers’ tasks in en-route operations, and enhance controllers’ performance.


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