PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - Air Traffic Control out in Sweden
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Old 8th Nov 2015, 09:31
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Wherever someone will pay me to do fun stuff
Posts: 5
Interesting comments. Especially a hint that pilots may not trust procedural control.

Of course there is no way that procedural ATC can handle anything like the traffic levels that are possible with radar.....but procedural control works and is still used in some places on a daily basis. But as has been indicated here, it often isn't taught to new controllers today - or in one situation that I saw, a two month training course was replaced with a three hour lecture and one simulator session (more to show the trainees how 'difficult' it is than anything else).

To my mind there is a parallel with the debate currently being had in the airborne side of the system. Pilots that are trained today are often trained (and probably very highly skilled at the end of that training) to operate the aircraft using the computer control systems. There are claims that some new pilots do not have a great deal of exposure to basic flying skills and lack the experience and knowledge to recognise when things are going wrong. Likewise, there is evidence that there is a belief held by some that the aircraft will never lie to them and consequently they may not look for the basic cues that will help analyse what the aircraft is doing.

The training system is, in places, turning out people whose level of experience does not enable them to do the basics, but can control a huge machine incredibly accurately using the tools provided by the manufacturer. This works well most of the time and enable a fully serviceable aircraft to be flown exactly as wanted and with great efficiency. This is fine, particularly for the beancounters who have a great say in how airlines are run (I don't mean this in any way disparagingly, doing things efficiently is very often good). These same beancounters are happy because the training is focused on what is needed - the need to know rather than the nice to know - and the training is cost-efficient too. Every now and then, typically during some refresher training there will be an exercise to check basic skill or give some practice in something basic, that we all assume everyone knows about - and a box gets ticked.

And in recent years we have had similar principles applied to ATC.

The upshot is that when all of the systems are working properly, everything works fine. But when things start to go wrong, the people we trust to sort it out may be woefully unprepared to handle it....and, in the worst outcomes, people die. The question is, is 'society' (and in particular the passengers on aircraft and those living under the routes followed by aircraft) prepared to accept that very, very occasionally aircraft will crash because of human intervention or lack of it, into a combination of events that is incredibly unlikely, in statistical terms, to occur. The answer appears to be yes, judging by the ever-increasing numbers of people who travel by air, particularly using the LCCs.

And all this, supported by regulators, where they are effective, that are more interested in seeing boxes ticked that how things happen in the real world.

OK, rant over. I think I smell the Sunday breakfast nearing the table.
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