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Air Traffic Controller Education Using Training Simulator

Various aspects of air traffic control technical systems are discussed, in particular the eCoach training simulator and how it can be utilized.

How the ATC Training Center at Fornebu, Norway, was Established

 
 
Avinor needed required periodic continuation training for their air traffic controllers stationed at twenty controlled airports in Norway. This is how it was realized as a commercial service.
 
eCoach at IAAN, Fornebu

Background

Four parties are involved in this story:
  1. Avinor – The ANSP who needed training for their controllers.
  2. Integra – The main contractor and official supplier of the service.
  3. Edda Systems – Provider of the eCoach ATC training simulator to Integra.
  4. Skyguide – Provider of training of Integra’s simulator pilots.


Overall Story

Avinor issued a public “Invitation to Tender”, containing instructions to the tenderers and requirements for 3D tower simulation services. Integra answered this tender in cooperation with Edda Systems and Skyguide, and got the contract. This blog article is one specific example how an ATC training center was successfully established, including the acquiring of the eCoach ATC training simulator.

Building

After contract signature, the placement of the new center was agreed between Avinor and Integra. The conclusion was Fornebu just outside Oslo, at the location of the former main airport in Norway.
In July 2015 the building premises were made available for the project. At that time, the facilities were “empty”, i.e. all the construction work had to start from scratch. The controller training was planned for start-up in October the same year, and July is the main month for summer holidays in Norway(!)
Integra and Edda Systems worked closely together to make floor plans and other plans. While Integra worked with getting the plans realized regarding purchase of furniture, hardware, walls, carpets, electricity, plumbing, sprinklers, projectors, network, cooling, kitchen, and offices, including painting and decorations, Edda Systems prepared the first airports to simulate and provided some eCoach training to Skyguide’s senior simulator pilot instructor.
Edda Systems received all the simulator hardware to their premises and set it up there while the carpenters were working to finish the training center facilities.

Simulator Installation

At the moment the building facilities were ready, Edda Systems shipped the simulator equipment and installed it in two cylindrical tower simulators, one 8-meter diameter and one 10-meter diameter, and a simulator pilot room. A separate server room was also filled with equipment.
 
eCoach ATC Tower Simulator Being Installed at Fornebu
 
Figure 1: eCoach ATC Simulator Being Installed

Simulator Pilot Training

Integra made agreements with 12 certified aircraft pilots to work as simulator pilots on full-time or part-time basis. They were all screened and then trained by Skyguide’s chief instructor over a two-week period. The chief instructor also prepared some training exercises specially for the education of pilots, in addition to exercises to be used for controller training. After the end of the general pilot training, the “real” exercises were used for specialized training in order to be well prepared for the center start-up.

Client Airports and Exercises

In parallel with the above activities, Edda Systems modeled the airports to be simulated, along with requested aircraft and vehicle models that were not available yet. The results were verified by Avinor’s instructor from each airport before the training started.
Avinor delivered specifications for their training exercises, and Skyguide’s chief instructor converted them into eCoach training exercises at his office in Switzerland. These were also validated by Avinor’s local instructors before start of training.

Adapting to Home Environment

For each new airport meeting at Fornebu for training sessions, a set of adaptation activities are performed. This takes typically about one hour, and the results are stored forever after. The purpose of this adaptation activity is to make the simulation environment as close as possible to the home environment, for maximum training benefit:
  1. Voice Communication System: Radio channels and phone setup is arranged with the same labels and frequencies as used at home.
  2. Controller displays: Placement and contents regarding track label contents, displayed maps, appearance of maps, colors of all the above, etc., are adjusted to the controller’s preferences.
  3. All exercises are timed and automated in order to be as realistic as possible regarding the home situation. Each exercise is test run by the local instructor together with sim pilots.
  4. Pilot Briefings: Briefing sheets are prepared and stored so the sim pilot will know when to declare emergency, misunderstand, or do other actions which is focus of the exercise.

Training History

The two simulators are used independently in two shifts. This means that up to four airports can run several exercises each in one single day.
After one year in service, all 20 airports are prepared. 18 of them have conducted one or more training periods for their controllers. The facilities are also used for investigations related to airport changes – new gates, changed taxiways, etc. – for risk reduction of projects. In summary, the project has been a tremendous success.

Available for Other Customers

Some spare capacity is available for other ANSPs than Avinor from time to time. The center is also easily expandable with new simulators. Therefore, if you are within reasonable distance from Norway and in need of air traffic controller education or airport validation, feel free to contact the Integra Aviation Academy, Norway.
 
Airport Design and Development
Using an Existing ATC System for Training
 

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Tuesday, 12 December 2017