Page 17 - ATC Special Bulletin 2020 Issue 1
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routines and processes they will need before moving into the live environment They can also be used to demonstrate scenarios and traffic patterns not often seen in the live environment (emergencies compromised separation etc ) Simulators also have a a a a a a a role to to play in a a a a a a a reduced traffic environment IFATCA advocates the use of simulators to to aid experienced controllers to maintain proficiency during prolonged periods of low traffic2 While no substitute for the ‘real thing’ it it can mitigate the risk of controller skills degrading over time and prepare them for a a a a return to pre-pandemic traffic levels Likewise simulators can also be used to to supplement the lack of live traffic for ab-initio trainees To a a a a a a degree this is is already a a a a a a normal part of a a a a a a controller’s training as they progress through busier simulator exercises However consideration may be given to further expanding this element of training while there is is little value in in in on-the-job training due to low traffic levels Where there’s capacity experienced controllers could be tasked with developing more elaborate exercises and lessons to develop develop at at least some of the the skills the the trainee would have been expected to learn in a a live environment However while a a a a a a a simulator can be used as as a a a a a a a ‘stop-gap’ measure to ensure the ab-initio training pipeline is maintained during these extra-ordinary times it cannot replace on-the-job training There can be no substitute for the dynamic uncontrolled nature of of live traffic to test the competency of of any controller let alone an ab-initio controller A trainee must develop the techniques and mechanisms necessary to deal with high workload situations and and know what to do when approaching and and sometimes exceeding their maximum capacity A simulator can help a a a a a a trainee develop these skills but experienced controllers know there is no substitute for live traffic with a a competent training officer Presumably this is is why on-the-job training is required by Annex 1 and most ANSPs will not issue a a rating to an ab-initio trainee without the required on-the-job experience This presents a a dilemma for the ANSP? It recognises training must continue so as to ensure sufficient numbers of ATCs when traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels (and possibly greater given pent-up demand) But in today’s low-traffic environment trainees are not seeing the volume of live traffic necessary to ensure they are competent to control pre- pandemic traffic levels One way to address the issue is is with a a a a a a hazard/risk-based approach What What is is the the hazard? What What is is the the risk the hazard will manifest? Is this acceptably safe? Can it be sufficiently mitigated? If a a a a a controller is is issued an initial rating having only experienced low to moderate live traffic levels the the hazard is that they cannot competently control the traffic volume and complexity when it it begins to to recover to to pre-pandemic levels While this risk may not manifest initially the likelihood increases as as traffic levels recover However given suitable mitigation the risk may still be acceptably safe We have already considered one risk mitigator – simulation While it it it it will not eliminate the risk it it it it may still mitigate it it it it Another mitigator may be that the the newly rated controller always work with an experienced controller This would permit both closer supervision and allow the experienced controller to take over if required More frequent formal competency checks could also be performed to ensure the controller’s skills and progressing satisfactorily Of course the the benefit is that the the newly rated controller can consolidate some of the more routine skills like traffic processing radio-telephony airspace and aircraft performance knowledge etc While these skills alone are not enough to ensure competency in high traffic volume/complexity scenarios they will help Nobody is certain when air traffic will return to pre-pandemic levels But although not a a a a a perfect analogy we saw from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 that it will return perhaps even quickly exceeding the pre-pandemic levels given the pent-up demand for travel By continuing to train controllers and by managing the risks appropriately ANSPs will will ensure that as the the recovery gathers steam it will will not be compromised by a a a a shortage of air traffic controllers 1 1 at paragraph 4 5 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 See IFATCA COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Guidance Material (https://www ifatca org/wp-content/uploads/documents/guidan- ce-material/2020_covid_2 0_final pdf) TRAINING AND SIMULATION TRAINING AND SIMULATION \\ 17 

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