Research Design to Access the Mental Workload of Air Traffic Controllers

  • Thorsten MühlhausenEmail author
  • Thea Radüntz
  • André Tews
  • Hejar Gürlük
  • Norbert Fürstenau
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 876)


The German Federal Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Berlin developed a method for neuronal mental workload monitoring. The so-called Dual Frequency Head Maps (DFHM) method allows defining the workload range of each person individually. The current research project describes the evaluation and condition-related verification of the DFHM method in a simulated realistic environment of an air traffic control center. During an interactive real-time simulation at the Air Traffic Validation Center of the German Aerospace Center, the load level for the controllers was varied by means of two independent variables: the traffic demand and the occurrence of a priority request. Dependent variables for registering mental workload were the DFHM index, heart rate, subjective questionnaires, and air traffic performance data.


Mental workload Electroencephalogram (EEG) Simulation Air traffic controller 



We would like to thank Kerstin Ruta for her daily operational support, Emilia Cheladze and Lea Rabe for conducting the experiments and the numerous pseudo pilots for their contribution during the experiments. We would also like to thank Martin Schütte for his general project support.

Author Contributions

T.R. initiated the project and was responsible for the overall conception of the investigation. T.R., T.M., A.T., H.G., and N.F. developed the research design of the study. T.M. and A.T. were responsible for the implementation of the simulation scenarios and the technical support. The study was supervised by T.R. The manuscript was written by T.M. and T.R. Final critical editing was performed by A.T., H.G., and N.F.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thorsten Mühlhausen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thea Radüntz
    • 2
  • André Tews
    • 1
  • Hejar Gürlük
    • 1
  • Norbert Fürstenau
    • 1
  1. 1.German Aerospace CenterInstitute of Flight GuidanceBrunswickGermany
  2. 2.Unit “Mental Health and Cognitive Capacity”Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and HealthBerlinGermany

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