From "Flight School" to CANI (1983 — 2023)
As the premises in the former check-in hall at the Old Aerodrome were both capacitively and technically inadequate, the construction of a new modern Air Traffic Control Training Centre was started, where training is still conducted today. The building was designed by the Research and Development Institute of Stavební závodů Praha. The location was chosen close to the old airport site. Due to the political system and establishment at the time, construction was delayed and at one point even threatened to stop altogether. The situation was saved by the researchers themselves, who left their offices and went to work on the site. Their enthusiasm for the project allowed the centre to start operating with only a few weeks' delay. The first students took their seats in October 1983.
The biggest advance of the new center was the innovation of the simulated workplace. The selection of the new simulator was subject to many specifications and requirements. In the end, the ATL simulator proved to be the most advantageous of the six bids evaluated, meeting all requirements to an acceptable degree.
In total, simulators for 3 types of radars were installed at LS in the 1980s:
-RP-3G - PAR type radar (replacement of RP-2)
-RL-41 - primary precinct surveillance radar (for APP/TWR) - replacement of RL-2
-AIL - secondary surveillance radar for ACC and APP Prague - AIL was the first purely digital simulator at LS. 4 positions were available. The system used punched tapes for "loading" exercises.
The AIL overview radar indicators formed part of the ACC training sites, which fully matched the equipment and layout of the operational sites, including simulated means of communication, progress boards, display of supplementary information and more. These control tables and other accessories were manufactured in the development workshops of the Czechoslovak Air Traffic Control Centre, which was also the supplier of the ACC workstations for all operational sites at Czechoslovak transport airports.
Technical limitations of the AIL simulator:
- all aircraft (targets) had the same performance parameters (flight profile) - thus they all behaved the same
- it had two groups of targets - one with variable flight parameters and the other with fixed parameters that could not be changed
- only 4 targets could have their parameters changed, namely their direction and speed of flight and their climb and descent.
For the simulation of the APP workstations, a Czechoslovak-made Tesla RP 3G precision approach radar simulator with communication links to ACC and TWR was chosen. Other equipment for these workstations was a product of the development workshops, as in the case of ACC.
Nevertheless, these simulators had a positive effect on the quality of teaching and raised the level of the operating staff. Until 1990, each simulator was derived from a specific type of radar and simulated only that specific radar.
Radars before 1990 had only one sensor ("antenna") in real life - there was no multi-radar data processing. The advent of multiradar processing allowed the link between radar and imaging to be broken. It allowed the development of universal simulators on a purely software-based PC without any link to a specific radar type.
At the end of the 80's, the Research and Development Centre (VVP) from Brno (part of the Radar Control Centre) started to develop the AVION simulator. AVION was installed at the Flight School in 1991 and replaced the AIL system simulator.
With the break-up of the Research and Development Workplace Brno in the first half of the 1990s, successor companies were established - RADAS, ARTISYS and others.
The AVION simulator was quickly replaced at the Flight School (1993) by the RYS simulator from ARTISYS. Conceptually, it was already a generationally better system than AVION.
In 1997, the simulator space at the LS was renovated and a new CASS simulator was subsequently installed.
- The RYS simulator was the predecessor of the CASS simulator - the reason for the transition by the manufacturer (ARTISYS) was a change in the hardware platform on which the simulator was based.
The history of CANI consists of many simulators, currently offering training on CANI SIM, ROSE, 3D TWR + PTT TWR, PAR.
At the time the new training centre was put into operation (1983), its capacity was up to 120 students, which covered both domestic capacity and enabled it to provide training services to external customers from abroad. This was not only advantageous from an economic point of view, but it also increased prestige internationally.
The model for lifelong learning and upgrading of air traffic controllers was set up in a three-stage structure. The first - onboarding, the second - political and professional growth, and the third - political and professional development. The basis of the first stage of the programme was a post-secondary specialisation course. In the autumn of 1983, 24 trainees from among the employees of the Control Centre who had passed the selection procedure sat in this course.
The selection procedure in the 1980s was open to candidates who met the following conditions: minimum age of 21 years,a high school diploma, good physical and mental condition, and knowledge of Russian and English (war?).
The project of post-secondary studies remained open by previous agreement so that the curriculum could be modified in response to developments in air transport, air traffic control automation and technology. Revisions were continually made on the basis of comments, changing the proportions of hours between subjects and limiting the teaching of disciplines that were not strictly necessary for the performance of the function. Changes were also made to the content of individual courses, particularly those of an educational nature. In mathematics, trigonometry was expanded at the expense of the scope of instruction on binomial equations, equations and inequalities of the third degree. In physics, the teaching of acoustics and the Doppler system was expanded at the expense of material point mechanics.
The principle of using the new international dimensional units was consistently applied. The outline of the first aspects of air traffic control was revised. In the teaching of regulations, duplications were eliminated and the sequence of subjects was adjusted to build on each other. Language teaching was also expanded, with a new language laboratory providing 24 stations with tape recorders and headphones. In terms of regulations, training and live operations were governed by ICAO regulations for a short time after 1945, but from the 1950s onwards there was a move to Soviet standards. It was not until the 1970s that training reverted to ICAO Annexes. Until then, the USSR standards were used, but they were not publicly available and students obtained them by transcription. Interestingly, the Russian phraseology never had an official source document and was learned only from materials created by instructors at the Prague stations. The first official Russian terminology dates back to the 1980s.
The training of the RCMP underwent a fundamental change with the change of the political situation in Czechoslovakia in 1989.
Pseudopilots became a new element in the training and their position was introduced with the installation of the new AVION simulator in 1991. The training concept also changed in the sense of reversing the ratio of live training versus simulator. Indeed, even after the arrival of the first simulators, most of the training took place in live operations. It wasn't until the late 1990s that a change occurred, with the new generation of simulators, and so a greater proportion of training began to take place on them.
In 2015, with the introduction of EC Regulation 340/2015, the terminology changed from the original designation of Basic Training to Initial Training and Continuation Training to Local Training. In the terminology currently used we refer to Basic Training as the initial 3 months of theoretical training.
In Initial Training, students work with a fictitious workstation, while in Local Training they work with a real replica of a real workstation.
There is now a significant change in the philosophy of air traffic controllers' work and thus training. The aim is to introduce "terminal sectors" to transfer the workload from low regional sectors to controllers at regional airports. New air traffic controllers are being trained for these terminal sectors as well as retraining existing ones. The model for this system is the centralisation in Germany and other European countries.