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Airways NZ: Taking Advanced Simulation to the Skies
By Sharon Cooke, CEO, Airways International Ltd
OJT occurs much later in the training process, and the simulator plays a prominent and significant role in the training of new controllers. Simulation allows instructors to create real-time traffic scenarios, helping students to develop the required skills, knowledge and experience they need to reduce their OJT time. Pause, rewind and playback functionality in simulators allow instructors to replay a complex scenario as many times as their students require. Simulators are also used to validate new procedures, evaluate airspace changes, and to conduct recurring training. Tower (or Aerodrome) Simulation Where a flight simulator imitates the view from a cockpit, an ATC tower simulator imitates the view from the air traffic control tower at an aerodrome. This includes replicating the environment as realistically as possible and includes: - Weather modelling - Night and day operations - Aircraft modelling and flight performance - Emulation of important systems such as lighting panels, communications displays and electronic flight strips. To achieve a simulator that provides an “out the window” highly realistic view for ATC trainees, Airways’ TotalControl simulator utilises a combination of high fidelity panoramic photographs captured from the control tower. These graphics are then integrated with 3D terrain data to create 3D generated models of the entire aerodrome environment, complete with aircraft and dynamic local weather events. Radar Simulation When simulating for a radar control position, there are two options – simulated, or stimulated radar. With TotalControl we use simulated radar for our ab-initio (trainee) ATC students – this mimics the operational environment for the purposes of training, allowing for more control and customisation over the simulation. When training our Airways operational staff in the simulator we use a stimulated radar system, where TotalControl generates all required simulated data (aircraft positions, weather etc.) and integrates that data with existing operational hardware. Students are then able to learn on the exact system they use in the operational environment, which has been a huge benefit for our operational staff at Airways. Resolving Industry Challenges Air traffic control simulators are helping to alleviate a number of aviation industry challenges – one of the most critical being a growing global shortage of ATCs amid the context of the significant cost of training. The message from our ANSP customers is clear – highly realistic simulation technology is important to them as they seek to reduce the time and cost of their training, and they’re looking for more choice in how ATC training is delivered. By coupling TotalControl with other digital training tools such as AirBooks, our library of cloud-based interactive e-learning resources, we’re helping our students to learn faster and rate faster. New technology and simulation allows our students to learn anywhere, any time and at any pace. Thanks to the flexibility and portability of TotalControl, we’re also able to resolve issues around delivering training to a dispersed workforce. TotalControl Mobile Simulators can now be deployed to each ATC tower to deliver training on location, significantly minimising the impact to the operational roster and reducing the cost of training. The operation and interfaces are the same, whether it’s run on a laptop of a full 360-degree projector simulator – so there’s no need for re-training when moving between different types of simulators. What does the future look like for ATC simulation? As the simulated representation of aerodromes and air traffic scenarios becomes more and more realistic, it’s not entirely inconceivable to think that air traffic controllers may one day be fully certified from simulator time alone. In the shorter term, we can certainly expect the required on-the-job training time to further reduce in comparison to time in the simulator. As for our TotalControl experts at Airways, they’re always looking to the future. As digital towers technology gains momentum internationally, we’re keeping a close eye on developments so we can ensure our people – and our simulation technology – are ready to train the next generation of controllers.