Page 21 - ATC Special Bulletin Series - Training & Simulation 2022-01
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   Figure 1.
Traffic controller by MUAC since 1972
TRAINING CONTINUED DESPITE LOW TRAFFIC
However, normal traffic levels were bound to return eventually and with a lead-time of three to four years for the training of ab initio air traffic controllers, continuation of training has been at the top of MUAC’s agenda. Especially since the number of retiring controllers was not affected by the pandemic at all. Because of the revised long term manpower planning, MUAC reduced the planned three new ab initio intakes per year to two, which means 24 new student controllers per year instead of 36. With an average overall pass rate of 70%, this accounts for some 26 new controllers who were licensed during the pandemic to replace the controllers expected to retire from the Centre and catering for potential further increases in traffic demand in the post-pandemic years to come.
To be able to continue training, as soon as the lockdown was imposed MUAC’s in-house engineers created a remote training facility. Within two weeks after the start of the first lockdown, the MUAC training infrastructure, a complex software environment, was securely available from outside the premises to conduct part of the student air traffic controller training virtually. Students, coaches and simulator pilots can easily connect to the system from their home office and although it took some time for everyone to get used to the new way of working, it has proved its pivotal role in MUAC’s ability to continue their training.
From March to December 2020, 24 checkouts were performed, including first, second, and third sector endorsements, as well as civil-military conversions, whilst in 2021 this number was 37. At the beginning of the pandemic, checkouts of those who were about to take an assessment were actually done in the simulator, for the first time in MUAC’s history. To give these numbers some context, MUAC currently operates with 328 licensed controllers in four main sector groups (Brussels, Hannover, DECO and the Special Operations Group), in which ATCOs can hold
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