The last 50 years in air traffic control have seen dramatic changes due to the growing technical and organisational complexity of the issue. The forecast growth in air traffic and the current congestion problems, triggering delays and associated costs, are the context for schemes that aim at establishing future capable, cost effective and properly standardised Air Traffic Management (ATM) concepts. A more harmonised approach to European-wide Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the need to address human resource and environmental aspects, are now basic elements of ATM strategies, such as the European Air Traffic Control Harmonisation and Integration Programme (EATCHIP) and the European Air Traffic Management System (EATMS).
CAST aimed to identify the consequences for future selection and training of air traffic controllers due to the new working environment, functions and system automation strategy. In particular the project sought to define:
- the changes in tasks, selection and training requirements;
- a framework and functional requirements for recommendations for future selection and training processes.
CAST has produced:
- a description of the future job profile for Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs), in terms of intellectual processes, reference knowledge, relational interaction and relation to time and space;
- a review of current selection criteria as a baseline for deriving future ATCO selection criteria, taking account of foreseen changes in ATM systems, identifying general requirements (e.g. medical, age, education, national obligations, security), cognitive abilities (e.g. memory, problem solving/reasoning, prioritising/filtering information, mathematical/ mental arithmetic, scanning/vigilance/monitoring, perception/spatial ability, multi-tasking, communication) and personality characteristics (e.g. personal relations, thinking style, emotions, teamwork and flexibility) as primary issues;
- a selection process model, structured in the three stages pre-filtering (general requirements), pre-selection (cognitive criteria) and final selection, to ensure the selection of those candidates that are most suited to deliver their cognitive abilities in specific situations;
- detailed and practical guidelines for designing ATCO training with respect to upcoming ATM systems. The guidelines incorporate all recent developments and trends in instructional theory and technology, computer based training and simulation.
The generic design of future ATCO training developed by the project, integrating theory and practice, will lead to a shortened duration of on-the-job training for air traffic control personnel. While implementing future ATM systems, ATCO training will need to integrate team training aspects and teamwork changes as proposed by CAST.