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ERAU students practice in real-world ATC environmentERAU students practice in real-world ATC environment

FAA on target to hire 6,300 controllers during next five yearsFAA on target to hire 6,300 controllers during next five years

State-of-the-art en route and terminal hardware and software teach air traffic control students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach campus how the systems work in a real-world ATC environment.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor and Air Traffic Management program coordinator William Coyne works with students Roemer Santos and Brandon Liden on new air traffic control equipment in the en route lab on the Daytona Beach campus. Photo courtesy of Daryl LaBello, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The advanced training and scenarios presented to students on radar lab consoles and display systems used by professionals “are more realistic” than the previous equipment, according to an Oct. 3 news release.

ATC modeling and simulation software called I-SIM ATM and manufactured by Kongsberg Geospatial, is said to deliver realistic en route and terminal air traffic scenarios to students so they can be better equipped to attend the FAA Academy, a mandatory stop for those entering the professional ATC environment.

The radar labs simulate a variety of ATC systems including training, air space design and analysis, and advanced computer-human interface development. The training also supports unmanned aircraft system integration into the National Airspace System, the news release noted.

The idea is to give students “a strong foundation when graduating and seeking employment” with the FAA, the Department of Defense, or commercial air traffic facilities.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students Jordan Harlow and Haley Dennis work on new air traffic control equipment in the en route lab on the Daytona Beach campus. Photo courtesy of Daryl LaBello, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Brandon Liden, an Embry-Riddle senior, is one of hundreds of students practicing on the same type of equipment used in ATC centers throughout the United States.

“This is exactly what they have in the field,” Liden said. “It’s nice we’re able to get used to the same equipment” in a practice environment before entering the field as a professional controller.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General said in 2016 that the FAA must hire 6,300 new controllers during the next five years to replace those retiring to maintain staffing levels that hover around 14,000.

William Coyne, an air traffic management professor and the university’s ATC program coordinator, said he has seen interest in the degree program grow during the last several semesters.

The aeronautical university noted that “85 percent of the U.S. air traffic controllers who are currently working will be eligible for retirement” within the next 10 years.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is among an original cohort of 14 colleges and universities that were granted an FAA designation as a Collegiate Training Initiative school.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Flight School, Student, Safety and Education

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