At the beginning of April, we put up announcements on Linked-in and Facebook offering help with theory and or radar techniques to students who had their training interrupted because of the COVID pandemic. This help would be delivered for free as part of our initiative to help our sector in times of need.
Surprisingly for us, only a few students contacted us for help and they needed reinforcement in practical skills training.
During the months of April and May, we remotely delivered Approach and En-Route Surveillance skills training using PORT – ROSE Simulation Online ATC Simulator platform and our own exercises. Our instructors ran over 50 exercises with these students, adapted to their level of proficiency and helping them to maintain the skills they had learned already in their schools and to learn certain new ones.
From our side, we learned better how to deliver skills training remotely. We have learned that whereas face to face contact and feedback helps in certain cases, it is not necessary 100% of the time. A blend of presential and remote/online skills training is possible. We learned that briefings and debriefings are perfectly possible in an online space and that today the technology to execute and remotely monitor a student during simulation is perfectly possible and highly performant.
From the feedback we received at the end of these sessions, we see that the students, apart from being very appreciative of the gesture, they valued the following in particular:
- The fact that someone else was giving a parallel and fresh viewpoint on problem-solving and radar skills, that complemented that which was thought in their school.
- They could experiment outside of their official school program. Experimentation included: different separation techniques (vectors, vertical with rates of climb/descent, etc. ), coordination techniques, analysis of aircraft performance within the decision-making process, coordination, approaches including ILS and visual approaches.
- Students did not find not having face-to-face interaction with the instruction a hindrance to their development.
- The empathy and availability of the instructor during these difficult times was what they were looking for.
- The possibility to continue practising radar skills and to avoid or at least reduce skill degradation.
In conclusion, offering free ATC training during the COVID pandemic has been a very positive experience for us at Ingenav, and from the feedback, we received a positive experience for the students who participated. Large amounts of ATC practical training can be done remotely. The technology permits it and the methodology fits well. We are considering repeating this at a later stage!