Cardiovascular Parameters for Mental Workload Detection of Air Traffic Controllers
In our study, we focused on air traffic controller’s working position for arrival management. Our aim was to evaluate cardiovascular parameters regarding their ability to distinguish between conditions with different traffic volumes and between conditions with and without the occurrence of an extraordinary event. Our sample consisted of 21 subjects. During an interactive simulation, we varied the load situations with two independent variables: the traffic volume and the occurrence of a priority-flight request. Dependent variables for registering mental workload were cardiovascular parameters, i.e., the heart rate, relative low-frequency and high-frequency band powers, and band-power ratio of the low- and high-frequency bands. Heart rate was the only parameter able to differentiate significantly between simulations with minimal and high air-traffic volume, while the effect of the priority-flight request remained doubtful. No significant interaction between traffic volume and priority request could be identified for any of the cardiovascular parameters.
KeywordsMental workload Heart rate Heart rate variability Signal processing Air traffic controllers
We would like to thank Kerstin Ruta for her daily operational support, Lea Rabe for conducting the experiments, the numerous pseudo pilots for their contribution during the experiments, and André Tews for his conceptual, technical, and overall support.
More information about the project that acquired our data can be found at http://www.baua.de/DE/Aufgaben/Forschung/Forschungsprojekte/f2402.html.
T.R. initiated the project and was responsible for the overall conception of the investigation. T.R., T.M., and N.F. developed the research design of the study. T.M. was responsible for the implementation of the simulation scenarios and the overall technical support. E.C. conducted the experiments, acquired the data, and provided support for the data analysis with SPSS and graphic editing. The study was supervised by T.R. Data interpretation was performed by T.R. and B.M. The manuscript was written by T.R. Final critical editing was performed by T.M., N.F., and B.M.
- 1.Mulder, L.J.M., De Waard, D., Brookhuis, K.A.: Estimating mental effort using heart rate and heart rate variability. In: Stanton, N., Hedge, A., Brookhuis, K., Salas, E., Hendrick, H. (eds.) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics Methods, pp. 20-1–20-8. CRC Press (2004)Google Scholar
- 7.Veltman, J.A., Gaillard, A.W.K.: Pilot workload evaluated with subjective and physiological measures. In: Brookhuis, K.A., Weikert, C., Moraal, J., De Waard, D. (eds.) Aging and Human Factors. Traffic Research Centre, University of Groningen (1993)Google Scholar
- 9.Nagasawa, T., Hagiwara, H.: Workload induces changes in hemodynamics, respiratory rate and heart rate variability. In: 2016 IEEE 16th International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE), Taichung, pp. 176–181 (2016)Google Scholar
- 11.Averty, P., Collet, C., Dittmar, A., Athènes, S., Vernet-Maury, E.: Mental workload in air traffic control: an index constructed from field tests. Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 75(4), 333–341 (2004)Google Scholar