Traditionally, air traffic controllers regard themselves as conservative in their
profession. The controllers' tasks are generally rule-based with the objective of
preventing collision between aircraft whilst maintaining an expeditious flow of
air traffic. Within this system of rules and procedures, however, controllers
develop ways of working which allow other controllers to operate in a similar
manner. Each knows what their colleague is doing or is about to do.
Likewise, aircraft usually fly along designated tracks so that their flight paths
and relative positions can be predicted by the controllers. Change to this
system meets resistance - the unknown situation is perceived as disruptive.
However, the inherent conservatism in air traffic control has dictated the way
in which people are trained and from this perspective there has been little
change in the last fifty years. Typically, all the theory will be covered by
classroom lectures (to gain knowledge) before undertaking a series of
practical exercises on a simulator in order to apply the basic operating
procedures. Following this, there is a period of On-the-Job Training (OJT) at
an operational unit.
The success of the training is often evaluated on the basis of the number of
trainees who pass the various examinations, which are set at different phases
of training, leading to final checkout.
All student controllers must demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge in
at least the following subjects: air law, air traffic control equipment, general
knowledge of principles of flight, human performance and limitations,
language, meteorology, navigation and operational procedures.