Workloadmodel Schiphol Ground Control

While you sit back and relax… …the ground controller’s workload increases. 

Everyone wants to go off on holiday in the summer. A fun city trip to Barcelona or a beach holiday on Curaçao. The airports experience their busiest periods during the peak holiday season. And this affects ground controllers at Schiphol too. While your average holidaymakers sit back and relax in their seats, ground controllers can be monitoring up to 20 aircraft at a time. Can they cope with this workload?

Insight into the workload

Stichting KDC is developing a model that maps out the workload of ground controllers. Ground controllers direct air traffic on the taxiways. Project leader Sigmund Lentze: “The more aircraft they monitor, the higher the workload. Yet there are other factors that contribute to an increasing workload. Such as the difficulty of runway combinations. The model predicts how these factors affect the workload. It is based on the existing workload model for area control.” 

The model’s factors

To calculate the total workload for ground controllers, we look at the flights they have ‘under control (UCO)’. This is an average of 10 to 15 aircraft at a time. The workload is split into two values: the workload of all UCO flights that come together (interaction) and the workload per UCO flight. The latter can then be further broken down into many different factors, such as intersections, hotspots and complex exits. In summary, this yields four main factors: interaction, taxi, apron (parking position at gate) and planning.  

From model to data model

The experts have precisely determined the weight of the factors that increase the workload for all possible routes from the runway to the apron and vice versa. Lentze: “We inputted the weights, or WL coefficients, into a data model. The statistics in the data model predict the workload. The data model is a matrix containing all the routes that could occur in a runway combination. And also the WL coefficient per factor for each route. The higher the figure, the more complicated the combination. And therefore the higher the workload.” In total we have created four data models for the four most common runway combinations. We have also recorded how the experts reach their assessments each time.  

The next step

According to Lentze, the model provides a sound starting point for investigating variations. “The predicted data still needs to be tested in practice. Only then we will see how accurate the values really are. We can use this to predict the workload of ground controllers better. We will know at how many aircraft the workload becomes too great. And what we can do to reduce that workload. So that ultimately everyone can sit back and relax in their seats.”

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