With more than 14,500 air traffic controllers navigating the country’s 760,000 average monthly flights, keeping up with training can be difficult for any operator. Training is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and internal leadership and development training increases an operator’s need to identify efficient and effective on-going education for their employees. So let’s look at four effective training tools for the air traffic control industry.
Yes, the FAA regulates the air traffic industry, but it also provides some useful and free training tools. While these tools may not be a complete training by itself, they may serve as an addendum to a complete and robust program. For example, the FAA provides support materials for a company to comply with its Drug & Alcohol Testing Program requirements. These support materials include videos, posters, printed brochures and different scenarios to help Air Traffic Controllers navigate a larger Anti-Drug and Alcohol Misuse Prevention Program. These resources are free, and can be accessed online here.
Online Training Tools
TPAs, like NATACS, provide a variety of online training modules for clients to help them meet requirements without incurring the time or the cost of in-person training. As we laid out in an earlier blog post, there are pros and cons to online training, but in many instances, online training is an ideal solution for the training needs of air traffic controllers. Not only can the training be done when it is most convenient to the controller, but it is also immediate, ensures a consistent level of training, and is cost effective.
Air traffic controllers are known for having one of the most stressful jobs in America, which can wreak havoc on a person’s mental and physical state. Providing training to controllers on how to better manage stress is, therefore, a worthwhile investment.
With so many options, it can be difficult to choose one stress-relieving tool. You may have been hearing a lot about mindfulness as a way to reduce stress and improve memory and other cognitive functions. Studies have shown that just 27 minutes of mindful meditation can increase grey matter density in the part of the brain critical for learning and memory. In addition, according to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness decreases anxiety improves a person’s ability to regulate emotion and therefore stress.
There are a variety of mindfulness-based training courses. The University of Massachusetts Medical School, for example, has an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program that more than 20,000 people have completed since it began in 1979. There are also online trainings available to better align with the busy schedules of Air Traffic Controllers.
Air traffic controllers are able to work until they’re required to retire at 56 years old, so refresher training over a 26-year career will be necessary to ensure employees are up to date on the latest developments in their field. Especially as the FAA’s NextGen program continues to transform technology used in the tower. Refresher trainings focus on improving operation safety and helping students understand new rules and regulations. It may also review standard operating procedures for radar, en route, and approach control services, use real case studies to teach from unusual and emergency situations and offer practical tips on using new technology.
Training air traffic controllers is an ongoing process, and the need for initial as well as ongoing training may only increase as the FAA’s new hiring practice affects long-term employment and performance. While operators are mandated to provide certain training, other education programs are available that can further support long term human resource goals and development objectives.