The acronym ATSEP refers to Air Traffic Safety Electronic Personnel. This select group of technical specialists provide and support the electronics and the software used to operate and allow air traffic safety (ATS) systems. This includes communications, navigation and surveillance and air traffic management systems (CNS/ATM). The ATSEP group is comprised of technicians, engineers and computer software and hardware specialists.
Activities that ATSEP Perform
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Manual on Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel Competency-Based Training and Assessment, ATSEP are responsible for duties that pertain to the use of ground electronic systems that are used to help control aircraft movements, including operational, maintenance, installation and management activities. The tasks performed by ATSEP may be on a wide variety of CNS/ATM/ATS systems or equipment. This requires a wide range of competencies, expertise, knowledge and skills in the areas of electronics, computer science and computer networking. ATSEP activities can range from technician-level to high-level engineering tasks.
ATSEP who perform operational activities are responsible for supervising, monitoring, controlling and real-time reporting of technical services that are supported by CNS/ATM electronic systems and/or equipment.
ATSEP who perform maintenance activities are responsible for providing preventive maintenance, corrective repairs and/or updates or modification of CNS/ATM electronic systems and/or equipment.
ATSEP who perform installation activities may perform tasks that are related to engineering activities, project management, specification, conception, validation, integration, testing and acceptance, safety assessments, calibration, certification, optimization and upgrade of supporting electronic systems and/or equipment for CNS/ATM.
Aside from technical activities, some ATSEP may work in areas related to:
Network security management
Regulatory Environment for ATSEP
In the past, more focus has been put on training ATCO personnel. However, recently, there has been a heightened awareness of the need for increased training because of the role that ATSEP play in the delivering safety and their place in the safety chain. As air traffic systems become more complex, there is a need to minimize the risk exists with technical systems, along with ensuring that these systems function properly.
This has brought about the need for the development of competency-based training and assessment programs. These programs are designed to provide a detailed understanding of the regulatory environment for which ATSEP work. National regulations may define what is required of ATSEP including knowledge, experience, skill, mental/emotional fitness and age to qualify for the type of activities performed.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has addressed this need for increased oversight of training of ATSEP. There is currently no provision under ICAO Annex 1 (Personnel Licensing) for licensing ATSEP. However, there are requirements for the competency of these individuals in Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) which was published in ICAO Annex 10 and in ICAO Doc 7192 – AN/857 Part E2 – Training Manual for Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP).
EUROCONTROL has published safety regulatory requirements to be implemented by EU member states in ESARR 5 pertaining to ATM Personnel. ESARR 5 Section 3 – Requirements for Engineering and Technical Personnel Undertaking Operational Safety Related Tasks addresses requirements for ATSEP, including requirements:
That are applied by the designated authority
For engineering and technical personnel involved with operational safety-related tasks
To be applied by the individual personnel
European Approach to Safety Management for ATSEP Competency
ATSEP must now have a basic level of training in electronics and engineering. Individuals seeking a career in ATSEP must now achieve certain levels of competency through earning qualifications and system/equipment ratings. There are four disciplines for qualifications:
The final stage for the acquisition of competence after obtaining the basic and qualification training would be system/equipment-related training.
This includes mentored training and onsite training.
Recognition and proof of competence for ATSEP is provided through records of training and experience with the safety management systems of service-provider organizations. However, some countries have decided that their ATSEP should have possession of their individual documents, including individual records of competence and/or evidence of appropriate professional qualifications.