Refresher Training for Air Traffic Controllers by Adrian Enright
Introduction It is established IFATCA policy that air traffic controllers should undergo periodic refresher training (Lyon 1976). A few administrations do provide some form of refresher training for their staff but there appears to be a requirement to re-emphasize this need for refresher training and once more bring it to the attention of ATC administrations. This paper puts forward a model outlining the format and content upon which a refresher training course for operational air traffic controllers could be based.
Discussion The far sighted administration or organization will have implemented a staff training scheme for its employees. Staff will naturally have to be trained for the tasks for which they were recruited and other staff will have to receive further. specialist training to enable them to continue their careers m the organ1sat1on. An organisation can only survive and profit 1f 1t adopts a forward looking policy with the interests of its employees at heart. It is people who make organisations - any organisation. An organisation with well motivated and well trained staff who are encouraged to take an active interest in their work will profit. Thus there 1s a third area of training to be considered and which should concern the ma1onty of staff - refresher training. (In the context of this paper the term ·refresher training' refers to a re-acquaintance with previously learned facts. a re-assessment of skills and an awareness of current specialist developments). In air traffic control today spectacular advances are being made both in the 'tools of the trade' and in the associated procedures which must keep up with the crowded airspaces. We can identify three types of controller depending on the environment: (I) the one brought up on the procedural system of controlling and who must now adapt to a radar and later a semiautomated system. (II) the one trained 1n procedural and radar but who 1s now faced with the introduction of automation and (Ill) the 'new generation' who has been directly introduced to automation with little or no other experience
are devoted to a revision of basic theory and procedures. Course participants are encouraged to do their own research (reference materials provided) and the instructor guides the discussions going into detail when and where required in order to clarify misunderstanding and to show a relationship between theory and practice. Practical exercises. following a classroom briefing. will give the participants the opporThe question of how to maintain a tunity to practise their operational techhigh standard of operational efficiency niques under set conditions. Exercises among controllers at ATC units has can be precisely designed so that basic long been of concern to many adminisskills and more complex situations can trations. Another aspect of this problem equally well be practised. Classroom is that an operational controller may debriefings and exercise analysis will perform his tasks satisfactorily for many follow each period in the simulator. years without ever being faced with an During the second week. whilst the emergency situation and thus not be practical exercises concentrate more fully· aware of the correct procedures to on the unusual occurrences. the classapply quickly should such a situation room presentations focus on specific develop. Controllers need also ·to be subjects of topical interest given by exaware of the limited service that can be perts. provided by a modern computor-generThe refresher course is not designed ated synthetic radar display when such so much as .a teaching course but more a system is degraded through technical as a platform for discussion. It is imporfailure. Or. in less sophisticated systant that an exchange of ideas and airtems. what action does the controller ing of points of view be allowed to take take m the event of a radar failure? place so as to clarify misconceptions The following is an example of how a and areas of ambiguity which often exrefresher course might be planned. Obist between interpretation of the rules 1ect1ves. which could be more suitably and pr.actical application. Controllers. detailed. should reflect the aim of the skilled in their day-to-day tasks. should refresher training and be clearly underb~ kept informed of new developments stood by all those attending the cour~e. within ATC and aviation and have an Define the controller background 1.e. awareness of the hidden dangers inhernon-radar. radar or automated. . ent in a casual manner of working and Course population: controllers with the use of non-standard RTF phraseolabout five years· experience. The nu~ ogy. The course should not be used bers will depend on the simulator facilito test the proficiency of the controller. The practical exercises ties available. Course ob1ect1ves: . should be designed so that the controller again becomes familiar with. for (I) to revise the standard procedures example. primary radar progressing associated with the ATC unit an.d in through unprocessed secondary radar particular to clanfy any areas. of misunto synthetic radar displays with data derstanding. differences with ICAO blocks. He practises his skills in unusual Standards and Recommendations. etc. (Checking knowledge and understands1tuat1ons e.g. radio communication failure. radar failure. aircraft emergening) cies. etc. Tape recording of RTF during (11) to control a specified num~er .of exercises and then discussing the playaircraft simultaneously whilst maintainback can be very useful. ing the correct separation standards between them. some of which will be The role of the. instructor 1s to help involved in unusual occurrences. the controller to identify his problem (Checking skills. Use of suitable simulaareas. clarify 'grey' areas and to encourage the controller to take a new intor) terest in his JOb. (Ill) apply correct RTF phraseology (IV) apply correct procedures to the It is important that controllers who attend refresher courses are aware of practical exercises in (II) (V) have a better understanding the course ob1ectives and course conof ... (the specific subjects requested tent if the maximum benefit is to be obby the controller e.g. Air Traffic Flow tained. Pre-conceived ideas which do Management. Incident lnvest1gat1on. not relate to reality are likely to be a aircraft emergency procedures. pilot cause of de-motivation among those atproblems m crowded airspace. automatending the course. tion in ATC. etc. A regular programme of refresher Course duration: Two weeks training should be introduced for all ( 10 working days) controllers on the basis. for example. of Course structure: The first few days a two week course (along the lines as