Above and Beyond

The laws of attraction were at work when government corporation Airservices Australia needed to introduce a new air traffic control tower simulator as part of its training program at the Airservices Australia Learning Academy. Airservices used a ‘pull’ approach to partner with simulation specialists Adacel, drawing intellectual energy to their Air Traffic Control Tower Simulator project, allowing the two to build trust and a rapport that went above and beyond a contractor relationship.

The AirTraffic Control Tower Simulator project was designed to teach new, cross-stream and refresher trainees in a better, faster and more cost effective manner. Initiated in September 2006, the project reduced the elapsed time for completion of training, reduced the costs of training delivery and relieved the on-the-job training loads on operational towers.

Airservices found that an off-the-shelf simulator did not meet their requirements, hence sought a solution that contained a range of support elements. as well as one that incorporated Australian requirements and conditions. In addition to making provision for a full immersion 360° simulator and three 240° mini-simulators, Airservices also identified a need for the academy to expand training output to cover controller attrition rates. This meant the 360° simulator had to have the flexibility to be split into two 180° training environments capable of running two concurrent but different scenarios. Furthermore, the 26 towers in operation had different operational consoles, which meant that the design needed to emulate the features found in all towers for trainees to have exposure to various types.

Of all technology projects, simulator projects are the hardest, battling scope creep, cost overruns and technical delivery failures. Mindful of this, the team developed an approach that involved intense research during the initiation phase before bringing Adacel on board.

Early engagement and development of a close working relationship with Adacel allowed the team to develop a thorough and fully risk-assessed schedule. The project team could therefore manage their commitments and take on a greater role within the delivery of the Simulator, which enhanced the relationship with Adacel and allowed maximum flexibility in the delivery phases. Site visits and face-to-face discussions with Adacel’s engineering staff consolidated the relationship and led to a valuable exchange of knowledge, which resulted in a better understanding of each other’s needs.

The outcome is a more advanced system that requires less maintenance and adopts some homegrown efficiencies at the price of lesser calibre simulation suites. Adacel was able to add important intellectual property to its range of simulation technology options, and Airservices Australia achieved far greater functionality and capability than originally planned.

“The excellence in project management bought both a high quality result for the academy and allowed the simulator to be used in operational training well ahead of schedule,” says Anne Marinis, manager at Airservices Australia Learning Academy, the project sponsor. “An item of particular note in the management of the project was the truly partnering approach which was adopted with Adacel. ln my opinion, this incremented the quality of the outcomes.”