Furniture Design and Ergonomics for Air Traffic Control Rooms
Air traffic control (ATC) and airport security are two of the most critical operations at airport facilities. The nerve center of these activities is the air traffic control room. Air traffic controllers guide aircraft on the ground and in the air, and perform important flight and safety operations.
The air traffic controller has a great responsibility and for this reason it is essential that the consoles are as well designed and equipped as possible.
Factors Affecting the Design of Air Traffic Control Room Consoles
For starters, there are no standard designs for airport control rooms; therefore, the following factors should be considered.
- General shape and size of the tower command and control room
- Workspace and walkway
- Lighting and placement of communications equipment.
- Space requirements for personnel and equipment
All of the aforementioned factors influence the design of modern ATC control room consoles.
Ergonomic solutions for modern control room furniture design
The main purpose of the command and control center consoles and surrounding furniture is to provide comfort and support to air traffic controllers working for long periods under continuous stress. Operator console furniture should be designed so that all equipment is within easy reach and with optimal viewing angles and lines of sight to coworkers and visual aids located throughout the command center. These ergonomic concepts are critical to the success of furniture design. Although people vary greatly in shape and size, console furniture is designed to the “human standard” with adjustability and ADA requirements for wheelchair access in mind.
Solid ergonomics says that operator consoles should be designed to be easy to use with minimal impact on the way the operator works. The operator’s console should be an instrument with adjustable features to meet the needs of the individual. These features can include adjustable monitor arms, work lights, and telephones. Adjustable equipment should be within easy reach and raised above the desk. Elevated equipment maximizes desk space and helps keep desk neat and tidy. An important ergonomic feature that is often overlooked at ATC is the adjustable desk lifts for operators who need to stand but cannot leave the space during normal activities. Unfortunately, the operating concept and stationary equipment found in most tower control rooms do not allow for adjustable work surfaces.
With a strong application of modern ergonomics and an understanding of the work being done, control room furniture can be designed to improve operational performance and safety, as well as to influence operator satisfaction and longevity of work. .
Professional space planners and furniture designer-makers should be involved to provide the solutions necessary to best meet operational needs within budget.