The simulator is a perfect device for controllers and ATSEP to practice and learn. Benefits of acquiring a simulator make this device a vital part of air traffic services.
The social cognitive theory views education as a learner-centered, social, and collective process influenced by learners’ active engagement. Active engagement needs a platform offering interaction with real or imitation of real scenarios.
Simulators are considered to be highly expensive devices. But through the utilization of simulators, we can overcome excessive costs associated with training performed in a real-life infrastructure.
You will certainly straight away agree with me. But can a simulator also reduce costs, or even generate additional turnover and profit?
Before proceeding with the answer to this question we should understand the types of costs involved when acquiring a simulator.
Types of costs involved
The ultimate goal of any economic activity is meeting costs and generating profits. Once the cost is met, we start earning surplus which is our profit or revenue.
These are the costs that remain unchanged irrespective of the operations. The fixed costs will remain unchanged against varying numbers of students that are taught (output level). Hence, we can assume it as an expense that is fixed in terms of its value.
All those costs that aren’t constant and changes with variations in the output level are considered as a variable cost. The variable costs are directly proportional to the number of students practicing on the simulators. Hence, we can conclude variable cost are the expenditure which is showing variation in its value instead of being fixed a throughout.
The costs associated with printed manuals of simulators for each student costs, associated with electricity, the costs associated with stationery, staffing costs, as a greater number of students than more staff may be required. And the costs associated with printing is considered as a variable costs.
An intangible costs are the costs that can be identified but cannot be quantified or accurately estimated. Common intangible costs include impaired goodwill or brand damage.
There is a necessity to select proficient instructive methodologies to guarantee that optimum value is being returned to society. Even at an individual level when a student pays his tuition fees in full, it becomes a moral obligation of universities to recognize proficient educational methodologies so that their courses can remain cutthroat in an international competitive environment. Similarly, when an organization plans to install a simulator for training of new inductees, improving skills or testing smoothness of operations in specific conditions.
Making such a significant decision entails various aspects impacting system performance requires careful selection and planning. The decision about the selection of a simulator should be gauged against possible benefits on acquiring a simulator and expected chances of under-performance or other consequences.
For Air Traffic Control Services the prime objective is air traffic safety. According to the Safety Management System, we are required to look systematically for the things that can and do go wrong in a system or operation.
Air traffic controllers apart from other requirements must fulfill specified strict requirements regarding knowledge and skill requirements. We all are aware of the relation between skills acquisition and simulators. Organizations responsible for the provision of air navigation services are required to equip their training and development programs with such supporting devices which can enhance the capability of their learning environment.
Moreover, organizations and institutions responsible for air navigation services should understand the regulations before they exercise the provisions or authorizations of a license, certificate, authorization, and/or approval to conduct the relevant aviation activity (International Civil Aviation Organization, 2006, pp. 3-13).
To fulfill these requirements, the right selection of simulators as a training device to enhance the effectiveness of learning is vital. Hence in Air Traffic Services, the utilization of simulators as a supplement to training and development is a desired and mandatory aspect.
Enhanced training of air traffic services is coupled with improved safety measures. Hence obligation for safety based on the ICAO regulations and other rules is achieved by the installation of simulators. Deviations from standards set by these regulations or adopting ways that do not address areas highlighted as grey in light of these regulations can be devastating.
Let us consider an organization dealing in air navigation services. Just a few days back names of significant points of different routes were changed as per ICAO decision at a major scale. The situation was coupled with sudden restructuring of airspace. This restructuring of airspace required a change in procedures and practices. The procedures were changed accordingly. Normally with restructuring coordination level also changes and so does the requirement of different stakeholders.
Under such circumstances, just vocal illustrations and briefings aren’t enough. Unfortunately, there were few lectures and deliberations pertaining to different aspects of operations that were supposed to be impacted. There was no practical evaluation being performed to test the implications of these structural changes.
Now imagine the implementation date arrives and the whole scenario of airspace changes. All air traffic controllers are confronted with exceeded stress due to a lack of training. A specific route towards an airport requires mandatory coordination with a military unit in a specific timing, that wasn’t the part of previous practice. Meanwhile, an air traffic controller gives descend to an aircraft having his previous practice at the back of his mind. As a result of this mistake military traffic comes in close proximity to civil traffic on the route and it results in a mid-air collision.
This loss in this imaginary case is associated with a lack of practice in a real scenario. If there would have been a simulator to train air traffic controllers on this restructured airspace, this incident could have been avoided. As a result of this mid-air collision there occurs a loss to the reputation of organizations. Under such circumstances, sudden decrease in the level of traffic, imposition of fines, compensation of loss, and the fear of being declared as unsafe airspace by international authorities can lead to major revenue losses exceeding by far the cost of a simulator.
Honestly, a simulator may appear expensive but overall the costs are really relative, if we consider the importance of increasing the skills of our air traffic controllers or service personnel, and hence air traffic safety.