Best Practices for Controller Training

Human-in-the-loop aviation simulation with pilot and supervisor/instructor positions

ATAC’s unique approach to air traffic controller training

Air traffic demand is predicted to double by 2020-2025 in the U.S., and elsewhere. The increasing number of U.S. air flights has placed a severe strain on the efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS). There is a growing demand for trained air traffic control specialists (ATCSs). ATAC and Kongsberg Geospatial have created benefits in incorporating real-time Controller Training methods. Through thorough testing and validation by controllers, ATAC and Kongsberg Geospatial have created a training system with unparalleled high fidelity and realism. Read how the simulator boosts collaboration on N.Y. airspace redesign (PDF).

Kongsberg Geospatial's I-SIM simulator is integrated with ATAC's GRADE® for I-SIM software for the playback of PDARS data through the GRADE® for I-SIM set of modules. The system offers the FAA a unique approach to ATC training, allowing for the playback of actual recorded data to be used for quick scenario creation, editing, and for student comparisons via control room baseline recordings. PDARS information is available at all ARTCCs and larger TRACONs. Through the integration of air traffic information through PDARS, the user can select traffic scenarios for playback anywhere in the NAS where data coverage is available to the PDARS system.

An I-SIM simulator was installed for evaluation at the Los Angeles ARTCC (ZLA) in 2009. The evaluation was intended to demonstrate the realism of the simulated environment, its ease of use, and the rapid scenario creation capability. The simulator exceeded the training department’s goals and also demonstrated its usefulness as an aid in the design and testing of new procedures in ZLA airspace. The ZLA controller workforce was involved in the evaluation by participating in simulation exercise development and execution. Several areas were tested, covering both high and low altitude airspace, and including varying degrees of traffic complexity. Users of the system were very enthusiastic about the simulator’s capabilities, ease of use and realism. ZLA personnel fully endorsed the system’s capability and encouraged the FAA to further investigate its use as a training aid.

The project validated the integrated GRADE® for I-SIM system as a significant training aid by identifying with the FAA a list of evaluation criteria and objectives. They included:

  • Airspace familiarization for facility-bound students
  • Replay of on-the-job training (OJT) sessions
  • Availability of custom student simulation exercises
  • High degree of realism and performance

ATAC is unsurpassed in the application of aviation simulation tools to many successful past airport and airspace capacity and delay projects. ATAC is well-prepared to use their knowledge and experience to assist the FAA by teaming with Kongsberg Geospatial in producing exceptional training tools for the next generation of air traffic controllers.

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