Beginnings (1920s — 1970s)
The history of ATC training in the Czech Republic is connected with the start of flight operations in the 1920s. In this period, the training of staff was provided through the Ministry of Posts and Communications by organising specialised courses for radiotelegraphists.
After the Second World War, the Ministry of Transportion organised several courses for radiotelegraphists of the air traffic control service. These included other subjects necessary for air traffic control. This was mainly carried out at this time by radiotelegraph communication and targeting. The regulations in force after 1945 were contained in a small booklet. These were then gradually deepened and expanded.
In later years, a few more one-off courses were organised for ZSL (air traffic controllers) and later for "air controllers". The content gradually changed and evolved as the management systems and technical bases of the air safety service evolved, such as radio-telephone communication, airway system equipment, etc. At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, the need for changes in air traffic control and safety technology arose again. Radars were introduced, and preparations were made for the transition to the use of paper flight strips on progress boards.
Therefore, the training of new air traffic controllers had to be ensured and the retraining of older staff had to be made possible. The main reason for this was the increasing traffic and the resulting need for quality training for new controllers.
Until the 1960s, controller training was conducted in the form of short-term training in improvised classrooms without any facilities. In reality, training was mainly carried out on the job in live operations. At that time there were no instructor qualifications or simulators. The trainee first observed an activity on a specific workplace and after a certain period of time performed the activity under the supervision of more experienced colleagues. At the same time, he progressed from less demanding workplaces to the most demanding ones.
There was also the establishment of the first permanent training centre of the State Aviation Administration at the Poprad-Tatry airport (now Slovakia). The training centre for air traffic controllers in Poprad had sufficient reserves for classrooms, simulated workplaces and accommodation for students. It was also used as a training station for long-distance traffic for the training of communications personnel. It served mainly for the first phase of training. The second phase was then conducted at specific stations. This system is basically still in force today.
The first air traffic controller course was held in the 1961/1962 school year. This centre made it possible to train the next generation of air traffic controllers.
The centre was equipped with two workstations for the simulation of the airport control service, two for the simulation of the approach control service and two for the simulation of the area control service. However, only procedural qualification training was run here (radar simulators were not available at the start). All the tables allowed a faithful simulation of radio communications and telephone calls.
In the second half of the 1960s, two types of simulators (or two types of radar simulators) were ordered from the CTU for the training centre in Poprad:
-RL-2 - primary precinct surveillance radar (for APP/TWR)
-RP-2 - PAR type radar
Tesla (radar supplier) at that time could not produce simulators for their radar systems. It was therefore necessary to order the radar (or an adequate part of it) from the manufacturer and then to hand it over to another entity (CTU, later also the Research and Development Department of the Air Traffic Control) to develop a simulator. Two RP-2 radar simulators were delivered - the latter was used to its full extent. These were the first simulators for training air traffic controllers in Czechoslovakia and operated at the Poprad centre. Later, other simulators were ordered and delivered.
However, in 1967-1968 the Tatra airfield was reconstructed and the training centre was dismantled. Several parts of the centre were temporarily moved to the vacant foreign clearance building at the Old Ruzyne Airport. Here, temporary classrooms were set up, in which air traffic controllers were trained and retrained.
The training for Prague (ACC and APP/TWR) was then conducted in the former wooden foreign dispatch building. Passenger traffic moved from there after the completion of the "new airport" and so from the late 60s and early 70s the vacated building could be used for training. This building is therefore the forerunner of today's CANI.
As flight traffic steadily increased, a capacity problem arose in the 1970s. There was a shortage of personnel and technical equipment. In 1974, the Central Transportation Institute began to work on the research task "Improving operational reliability in the air traffic control service". This became the first stage of a system of lifelong learning for the profession. In 1979, the second stage was followed by a post-secondary course for those who had already had practical experience in the workplaces of the Regional Directorate. The third stage then became qualification courses for professional and functional staff, especially for managers and selected staff and for specialised categories of managers.