The NATS Human Factors Team played a significant role in developing EFPS for nine NATS Airports.


Electronic Flight Progress Strips (EFPS) have been deployed in nine of the NATS Airports. The system was first introduced within the Stansted Visual Control Room (VCR) in 2004. Subsequently it has been implemented within four other NATS VCRs (Gatwick 2005, Luton 2006, Heathrow 2007, London City 2010) and four Tower/Approach Units (Edinburgh 2009, Glasgow 2010, Aberdeen 2010, Manchester 2012). EFPS has also being developed to support offshore operations at Aberdeen (implemented 2010).

Human Factors Involvement

At each implementation, the Human Factors team worked to identify any potential human hazards associated with the introduction of the system. This was achieved through the application of a structured programme of work which included the use of Human Error Safety Assurance Process (HESAP). This allowed potential hazards resulting from human error to be identified and appropriate mitigations to be put in place.

The HF team also provided design guidance to the project team and Units on both ergonomic and interface aspects and assisted with the successful training and transition from paper flight progress strips to the electronic platform.

What worked well?

  • Applying the lessons learned from each implementation of EFPS. This enabled improvements to both the technical system and processes such as training and revising the concept of operations to be made for each subsequent implementation.
  • Developing appropriate tools and methods to assess training effectiveness and user confidence prior to the system going operational.
  • Focussing HF activities on the five HF Safety objectives namely; Human Performance, Workload, Situation Awareness, User Confidence, Teamwork / Communication and gathering evidence throughout the development process so that assurance could be given that the system was fit for purpose.

What didn’t work well?

  • An initial failure to recognise the importance that user confidence has in achieving a successful transition: Investing the time in engaging end users and getting User involvement during the development process is vital in gaining trust and acceptance of the overall system.
  • The early training environment. Although the first training set up was adequate for learning of specific skills and EFPS functionality, it did not provide training of the whole controlling task, that is, the range of activities which are demanded of a controller in an operational environment were not integrated in a training package. It became apparent that testing of the complete system was required prior to it becoming operational. That is, testing not only that the new technology was compatible with existing technology, but also testing that the way it was to be used and the environment in which the system will operate, is safe.

If you have any questions or comments about this story, please contact us at [email protected].