MacDill air traffic control: Training effectively and efficiently

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

In today’s military, air support has revolutionized the support and defense of the U.S. To keep that support running safely and effectively, air traffic controllers, those who monitor the air space, continuously train on systems like the Tower Simulation System, so they are ready for whatever comes their way.

At MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, five screens and nine computers comprise the air traffic control simulator used to train controllers approximately 100 hours a month in total. The MacDill replicated setup, voice recognition technology and customized scenarios give controllers a realistic training atmosphere.

“The simulator allows us to practice scenarios we might not often see,” said Senior Airman Vincent Magenti, an air traffic controller assigned to the 6th Operations Support Squadron. “We can simulate any kind of aircraft or scenario for training so if one day a scenario actually happens in real life, our trainees and rated controllers will have the right training and know what to do.”

Aside from providing practice, the simulator is critical for upgrade training.

“The simulator is an invaluable tool to meet the training requirements in the time constraints we have,” said Bruce Morrow, a supervisor air traffic control specialist and the air traffic control simulation equipment program manager assigned to the 6th OSS. “It cuts time down on training because the simulator provides scenarios Airmen need to be signed off on that they may not see in the tower.”

Controllers can also create individual customized scenarios for an Airman struggling with a particular concept. The scenario can be saved and repeated as often as needed to help the Airman.

“At the end of my training, I had trouble understanding concepts in local control, the simulator allowed me to see more traffic that I might not normally see and was customized by my trainers,” said Magenti.

The simulator allows the Airmen to experience more efficient training leading to faster certified controllers.

“With the traffic pace here at MacDill, training takes approximately a year to complete with the simulator, but without it I could see it taking anywhere from a year and a half to two years to complete,” said Magenti.

Whether it be upgrade training or training when the tower isn’t experiencing much traffic, the simulator provides a unique resource to prepare Airmen for the future unknown.