ANSL launches U.K.-first simultor-based air traffic control full unit training

Air Navigation Solutions (ANSL) has announced the launch of a ground-breaking unit training program that enables Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) to utilize simulators as a key training element throughout full unit training.

It is the first On-the-Job Training (OJT) program that uses simulators consistently throughout the entire Unit Training Plan (UTP) to be approved for use in the U.K. – finally taking Air Traffic Control (ATC) training to the level that Airline Pilot training has been at for decades.

When arriving at a new airport, every ATCO needs to undergo unit training which prepares and validates them to be a controller at that specific location. However, the live operation at large hub airports do not present trainees with many opportunities to practise their basic skills during the initial phase of training due to consistently high traffic levels. At less busy airports the lack of traffic can sometimes hinder progress in the later stages of training.

The structured use of simulators under ANSL’s newly created Unit Validity Course (UVC), part of the enhanced UTP, ensures that ATCOs can receive initial ‘light traffic’ training – which can easily scale as trainees gain skills and experience – in a controlled traffic environment.

The UVC is a 14-week assessed classroom and simulator course, and replaces the previous Level 1 training phase that was carried out in the live operation. This course must be completed before ATCO trainees can progress to handling live traffic in the Visual Control Room (VCR).

The simulators also form a large part of the second and third phases of the new UTP. The advanced technology gives trainers the ability to generate any specific traffic scenario required at any given point in the training, regardless of what the live environment is able to provide. In addition, the ability to pause the simulation to reflect and discuss decisions during training offers an extra dimension that is not available with live traffic.

The simulators have also been approved for use as part of the final unit endorsement assessment, limiting the impact of interruptions to the VCR, should it be required.

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