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Leverage points: insights from a field study in the air traffic control system

Malakis, Stathis, Kontogiannis Thomas

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Year 2021
Type of Item Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication
Bibliographic Citation S. Malakis and T. Kontogiannis, “Leverage points: insights from a field study in the air traffic control system,” Theor. Issues Ergon. Sci., vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 360–382, May 2021, doi: 10.1080/1463922X.2020.1784307.
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An important aspect of expertise is the ability of experts to notice ‘interesting events’ that provide opportunities for building efficient courses of action that make a significant impact on the operation of the system. These ‘interesting events’ are referred to as ‘leverage points’ that become the starting point in building new solutions to a problem. In this article, experienced controllers are observed in a series of simulation trials in order to record how leverage points are noticed and used in constructing new courses of action. A large number of scenarios were simulated and 10 controllers were employed to collect data about the use of leverage points. Quantitative results are presented on the types of leverage points used, their frequency of use and their likelihoods of failure. Based on the research results, a simple model has been proposed that relies on four cognitive processes that involve: noticing leverage points, building a curse of action, evaluating it and finally, repairing the course of action. Leverage points can be seen as the type of performance data that should be collected in the new Safety II approach to safety management.