Air Navigation Solutions (ANSL) has launched a ground-breaking Unit Training Programme that enables Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) to utilise simulators as a key training tool throughout full unit training.

The launch marks the first On-the-Job Training (OJT) programme that uses simulators consistently throughout the entire Unit Training Plan (UTP) to be approved for use in the UK.

“The systematic use of simulators throughout the entire OJT not only provides highly effective training, but also improves predictability and reduces training times substantially,” noted Paul Diestelkamp, Head of Business Development and Solutions at ANSL.

Every ATCO needs to undergo unit training when arriving at a new airport.However the live operation at large hub airports does not present trainees with many opportunities to practise their basic skills during the initial phase of training due to consistently high traffic levels. Meanwhile, at less busy airports the lack of traffic can also hinder progress in the later stages of training.

By using the simulators under ANSL’s newly created Unit Validity Course (UVC) as part of the enhanced ITP, ATCOs can receive initial ‘light traffic’ training which can then easily be scaled as trainees acquire skills and experience in a controlled traffic environment. The UVC is a 14-week assessed classroom and simulator course which replaces the previous Level 1 training phase that was carried out in the live operation and it must be completed before ATCO trainees can move on 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 he live environment is able to provide. In addition the simulation can also be paused to reflect and assess decisions during training, something that is obviously not possible with live traffic.

“Our state-of-the-art simulators ensure that trainees get to see and experience anything that cannot be delivered by the operation at that moment in time  – which could be anything from heavy traffic levels or weather phenomena to the complexities generated by long-term apron and manoeuvering area closures as seen during the pandemic,” said Nichola Ashcroft, Head of Training at ANSL.

ANSL’s first implementation of the UVC training course commenced in April at their Gatwick facility and it is now ready to support the implementation of similar UTPs elsewhere.



Leave a Reply