IN­TE­GRATED ATC TRAIN­ING SIM­U­LA­TOR: A REV­O­LU­TION IN ATM TRAIN­ING

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Airports India - - NEWS - D.K. Be­hera Jt. Gen­eral Man­ager (ATM-IPG) Ra­jiv Gandhi Bhawan

The phe­nom­e­nal growth of air traf­fic since 2004, has taken the whole world by sur­prise, and In­dia is no ex­cep­tion. In or­der to pro­vide world class air traf­fic ser­vices, air nav­i­ga­tion ser­vice providers have adopted var­i­ous strate­gies to meet the new chal­lenges. Be­sides re­cruit­ment of man­power, Air­ports Au­thor­ity of In­dia has re­mained com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the train­ing fa­cil­i­ties and procur­ing sta­teof-the-art equip­ment, for en­hanc­ing the skill level of the air traf­fic con­trol of­fi­cers (ATCOS).

The train­ing of air traf­fic con­trollers has been mostly lim­ited to ab-ini­tio train­ing at train­ing acad­e­mies sit­u­ated at the Civil Avi­a­tion Train­ing Col­lege, Al­la­habad; Hy­der­abad Train­ing Cen­tre, Hy­der­abad and NIATAM, Gon­dia. On suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of train­ing, the newly re­cruited ATCOS un­dergo on the job train­ing (OJT) at the sta­tions. How­ever, due to the in­creas­ing vol­ume of traf­fic, im­part­ing sta­tion level train­ing on sim­u­la­tor to the newly re­cruited ATCOS be­came es­sen­tial be­fore they were marked for OJT. Thus, a phase of sim­u­lated train­ing was in­tro­duced be­tween the ab-ini­tio train­ing at train­ing in­sti­tutes and the on the job train­ing im­parted in the chan­nel with live traf­fic.

GOALS OF SIM­U­LA­TOR SYS­TEM

In 2010, it was en­vis­aged that state-ofthe-art In­te­grated ATC Train­ing Sim­u­la­tors (IATS) would be pro­cured at four metro sta­tions, in Delhi, Mum­bai, Kolkata and Chen­nai. The sim­u­la­tor sys­tem was called in­te­grated be­cause it pro­vides a si­mul­ta­ne­ous pro­vi­sion for im­part­ing train­ing at var­i­ous ATC units cor­re­spond­ing to an air­port. The ob­jec­tive of this in­ter­me­di­ate train­ing mod­ule was to raise the skill lev­els of a trainee, as con­se­quent to assess­ment, they are grad­u­ally in­tro­duced for OJT im­parted through ac­cred­ited OJT in­struc­tors. This prac­tice has proven to be very suc­cess­ful, es­pe­cially for train­ing in

high den­sity air­ports and air space.

Ear­lier, there was no pos­si­bil­ity of im­part­ing pe­ri­odic train­ing to the ex­ist­ing cer­ti­fied con­trollers for main­tain­ing their skill lev­els. It was en­vis­aged that in­tro­duc­ing train­ing pro­grammes and mod­ules would pre­vent ATCOS from los­ing touch with the art of con­trol­ling traf­fic dur­ing un­usual oc­cur­rences. For in­stance, a radar con­troller with 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in ATC, last per­formed train­ing for han­dling an air­craft in emer­gency two decades ear­lier. With due pro­gres­sion of time, it is un­der­stand­able that they may lose the ef­fi­cacy in con­trol­ling the air­craft dur­ing emer­gen­cies and pri­or­ity han­dling. There­fore, it is im­per­a­tive to main­tain the skill level of such con­trollers, so that, at the time of need, they can demon­strate their strength and skill for man­ag­ing such ab­nor­mal sit­u­a­tions.

An­other ad­van­tage of this sim­u­la­tor is to test the new pro­ce­dures. Keep­ing safety in mind, it is un­de­sir­able to test new pro­ce­dures with live traf­fic move­ment. Even though safety assess­ment is con­ducted be­fore pro­mul­ga­tion of any new pro­ce­dure, it is al­ways bet­ter to un­der­stand the dif­fi­cul­ties of both pi­lots and con­trollers through re­al­time sim­u­la­tion with near sim­i­lar air­craft per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters, be­fore sub­mit­ting the pro­ce­dure for val­i­da­tion. The high­val­ued projects at the four met­ros can also be utilised for other smaller air­ports in the re­gion. For ex­am­ple, the Trichy and Cali­cut con­trollers were called to the IATS site at Chen­nai for ex­ten­sive train­ing be­fore the Au­to­matic De­pen­dent Sur­veil­lance– Broad­cast (ADS-B) was made op­er­a­tional; here, the con­trollers were as­sessed prior to cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of autho­riza­tion.

An­other im­por­tant as­pect of this IATS project is to mon­i­tor the train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of four IATS sites for Re­mote sta­tion equip­ment (RSE) at the Cor­po­rate Head Quar­ters (CHQ), Ra­jiv Gandhi Bhawan, New Delhi. The train­ing data per­tain­ing to each ATCO will be au­to­mat­i­cally made avail­able at CHQ, so that, the ATM Direc­torate can su­per­vise the es­sen­tial train­ing re­quire­ment of ATCOS. This in­cludes per­for­mance of a min­i­mum num­ber of ex­er­cises for un­usual oc­cur­rences by the ex­ist­ing con­trollers and by the newly re­cruited ATC, be­fore they are put to real time OJT with live air­craft.

SIM­U­LA­TOR TRAIN­ING: AN ES­SEN­TIAL

Air traf­fic con­trol ser­vice is gov­erned by spe­cific rules and reg­u­la­tions which de­fine min­i­mum re­quire­ments to main­tain safety along with or­derly and ef­fi­cient flow of air traf­fic. These rules and reg­u­la­tions are pre­scribed by In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ICAO) and adopted by the na­tion­ally des­ig­nated au­thor­i­ties. The Air Traf­fic Con­trollers (ATCOS) pro­vide ser­vices which re­quire ac­cu­rate the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge com­ple­mented with ad­e­quate lev­els of skills and train­ing. ICAO has pre­scribed min­i­mum re­quire­ments for ATC train­ing within its Stan­dards and Rec­om­mended Prac­tices (SARPS).

In or­der to op­ti­mise the train­ing of the ATCOS, sim­u­la­tors are fre­quently em­ployed and ad­justed to the var­i­ous stages of de­vel­op­ment through which the trainees progress. Sim­u­la­tors al­low stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence a vir­tual airspace which closely repli­cates the real con­di­tions.

Us­age of sim­u­la­tion train­ing de­vices in ATC train­ing is the best method for ac­quir­ing and demon­strat­ing the skills re­quired for the is­suance of a li­cense or rat­ing, for gain­ing com­plete ex­pe­ri­ence and also in demon­strat­ing con­tin­ued com­pe­tency. The ad­e­quate level of skills and train­ing must be achieved on the sim­u­la­tion de­vices where can­di­dates ac­quire the proper amount of prac­ti­cal ex­er­cises for both usual and un­usual cir­cum­stances. Per­form­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate prac­ti­cal ex­er­cises af­ter ac­quir­ing the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge has proven to be a use­ful prac­tice that con­trib­utes to the sys­tem­atic progress of can­di­dates and im­proves the over­all qual­ity of the train­ing process. Us­ing sim­u­la­tors in unit train­ing fa­cil­i­tates fur­ther ef­fi­cient knowl­edge and skill trans­fer, thereby in­creas­ing safety.

OB­JEC­TIVES OF SIM­U­LA­TOR TRAIN­ING:

t Stream­line the train­ing op­er­a­tions through a pro­fi­ciency-based train­ing method t Con­stantly im­prove and adopt the train­ing ap­proach to bet­ter ad­dress the needs of train­ing a pre­dom­i­nantly young work­force t Im­ple­ment new train­ing tech­nolo­gies to en­hance train­ing de­liv­ery and stu­dents’ ex­pe­ri­ence, while also sup­port­ing changes.

SIM­U­LA­TION TRAIN­ING: AD­VAN­TAGES

The use of sim­u­la­tors to train can­di­dates specif­i­cally for un­usual and emer­gency pro­ce­dures as ap­pli­ca­ble to their units is highly ben­e­fi­cial. Sim­u­la­tion train­ing can be pro­gres­sively adapted to the par­tic­i­pant’s

learn­ing pro­cesses, which in­creases the pos­si­bil­ity that the sub­ject mat­ter will be more deeply and ef­fec­tively in­te­grated into the par­tic­i­pant’s un­der­stand­ing. Es­pe­cially, in non-busy en­vi­ron­ments, and some rel­a­tively com­plex sit­u­a­tions which do not oc­cur of­ten or which may take months to ap­pear in re­al­life, or may even ap­pear when the can­di­date is off duty. For ex­am­ple, thun­der­storms and bad weather con­di­tions are sea­sonal and there­fore sim­u­la­tion train­ing is nec­es­sary to equip the trainees with the ex­pe­ri­ence of han­dling such con­di­tions. In busy en­vi­ron­ments, the high and com­plex traf­fic lev­els do not al­ways pro­vide the mix of sit­u­a­tions which cover all the ob­jec­tives as de­scribed in the unit train­ing plan. For ex­am­ple, low vis­i­bil­ity con­di­tions, fog, thun­der­storms etc.

CON­NECT­ING ATC AND SIM­U­LA­TION

Air Traf­fic Con­trol is a com­plex task and thus, its train­ing re­quires so­phis­ti­cated fa­cil­i­ties such as real time sim­u­la­tors. Real time sim­u­la­tion in air traf­fic con­trol train­ing links the­ory with prac­tice, knowl­edge with its ap­pli­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence with skills. The stu­dents bring to sim­u­la­tion some knowl­edge of the rules, reg­u­la­tions, prin­ci­ples, pro­ce­dures, in­struc­tions and ob­jec­tives of air traf­fic con­trol, while they learn from sim­u­la­tion, how this knowl­edge is ap­plied through the work bases, equip­ment, tasks, func­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of air traf­fic con­trol. To some ex­tent, real time sim­u­la­tion for air traf­fic con­trol train­ing is al­ways dy­namic, in that, it responds to the stu­dent’s ac­tions and presents sit­u­a­tions to which the stu­dent must re­spond. From sim­u­la­tion, the stu­dents can gain ex­pe­ri­ence of the fol­low­ing:

t What is eas­ily ac­com­plished and what is dif­fi­cult?

t What has to be planned ahead?

t What is the op­ti­mum tim­ing, se­quenc­ing and sched­ul­ing of con­trol ac­tions?

t What kinds of er­ror can oc­cur and how can they be de­tected, re­solved or pre­vented?

t How, when and where does in­for­ma­tion ap­pear?

t How is in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­cated?

t How is in­for­ma­tion up­dated, recorded and dis­carded?

t How are all func­tions ex­er­cised through in­put de­vices?

t What ac­tions are ini­ti­ated by con­trollers, in­clud­ing their tim­ing and cir­cum­stances?

t How much work is there in con­trol­ling air traf­fic?

Sim­u­la­tion can be se­lec­tive. It can be used to teach and train stu­dents on the sep­a­rate as­pects of air traf­fic con­trol; such as, in­ter­pre­ta­tion of radar in­for­ma­tion, the use of pa­per type progress strips or the learn­ing of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, co­or­di­na­tion and li­ai­son pro­ce­dures. Its use can then be ex­tended to in­te­grate these and other learned as­pects into the to­tal air traf­fic con­trol job. Com­plex sim­u­la­tions seek to present the com­plete job, to the ex­tent that the work spa­ces, hu­man ma­chine in­ter­faces and the dis­plays, with the con­trols and com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties, ap­pear and func­tion in ac­cor­dance to their real-life coun­ter­parts. How­ever, the emo­tional cli­mate of hav­ing the con­trol re­spon­si­bil­ity for a real air­craft can­not be sim­u­lated. Sim­u­la­tion can show the im­me­di­ate con­se­quences of ac­tions in terms of their ef­fect on traf­fic con­fig­u­ra­tions and sub­se­quent traf­fic han­dling, but it does not cover their wider ram­i­fi­ca­tions such as a con­troller’s er­ror lead­ing to the fil­ing of an of­fi­cial in­ci­dent re­port or cer­tain as­pects of the of­fi­cial in­quiry. In prin­ci­ple, there seems to be a strong case for in­clud­ing such ram­i­fi­ca­tions in train­ing, though this is nei­ther done nor usu­ally sug­gested.

The tech­nol­ogy of sim­u­la­tion has been, in some re­spect, rev­o­lu­tion­ized in re­cent years for pend­ing tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances ap­pli­ca­ble to air traf­fic con­trol train­ing. Soft­ware pack­ages can present sim­pli­fied ATC prob­lems on the per­sonal com­puter. More elab­o­rate work sta­tions, in­clud­ing suites for more than one per­son, can be em­ployed to de­velop air traf­fic con­trol skills. Net­work­ing en­cour­ages sim­u­la­tions for the con­cur­rent train­ing of sev­eral groups or sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als on dif­fer­ent as­pects of air traf­fic con­trol with the flex­i­ble in­te­gra­tion of their ac­tiv­i­ties. Dis­plays, such as videos, aids based on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence or ex­pert sys­tems and speech pro­cess­ing can be in­cor­po­rated into the sim­u­lated sys­tem. Many train­ing pro­grammes us­ing sim­u­la­tion are evolv­ing from the stan­dard­ised in­struc­tions for stu­dents in groups to match train­ing as per in­di­vid­ual needs.

Sim­u­la­tion is a vi­tal tool in the in­tro­duc­tion of more flex­i­ble learn­ing tech­niques. An­other vi­tal role of sim­u­la­tion is to pro­mote im­me­di­ate knowl­edge of re­sults, not merely by in­di­cat­ing when the stu­dent has made an er­ror, but by re­veal­ing its ac­tual and po­ten­tial con­se­quences, in en­tirety. Such feed­back is es­sen­tial in learn­ing and is one of the strengths of sim­u­la­tion as a train­ing tool.

The rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­cept of IATS in Air­ports Au­thor­ity of In­dia is the first of its kind in the world of avi­a­tion. The po­ten­tial of this sim­u­la­tor is enor­mous as it is equipped to meet the chal­lenges of ATM train­ing. The growth of air­craft move­ments, mass re­cruit­ment of ATCOS and the need for chang­ing pro­ce­dures to en­hance safety has fur­ther pro­pelled the need to de­velop such an en­com­pass­ing train­ing sys­tem.

At AAI, we are con­stantly en­deav­our­ing to en­hance the safety sys­tem pro­tect­ing our flyers. The IATS is yet an­other step in this di­rec­tion.

ATC Tower, Delhi

Sur­veil­lance Sim­u­la­tor train­ing for skill en­hance­ment

In­struc­tors sharp­en­ing the skills of trainees

Con­trollers train­ing at Sim­u­la­tor

PRE-OJT at IGI Air­port sim­u­la­tor

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