Visual Vectoring™: the concept

The concept of 'Visual Vectoring™' which underlies the VV Approach™ methodology, may be understood as follows: Vectoring is the act of controlling the flight path of an aircraft by instructing the pilot to steer a heading, or direction. It is done as a routine task to serve many purposes, including collision avoidance and the arrangement of aircraft arriving at a busy airport into a precisely controlled, and correctly spaced landing sequence. Proficiency in vectoring is difficult to acquire because of the variables that are involved, the speed at which aircraft move, and the pressures introduced by the fact that an unfolding scenario cannot be halted to gain thinking time. The term Visual refers to the manner in which the controller interprets the information provided by the operational display. Many controllers learn, and perform, vectoring as a series of mathematical formulae that are memorised and applied to traffic scenarios based on previous similar occasions. This method of learning is highly inefficient, and proficiency at applying it difficult to maintain. Visual Vectoring™ is achieved by the recognition of the many cues to actual movement on the screen, and is an adaptation of the eye's natural ability to track moving objects to the unfamiliar motion that radar/surveillance systems present. Visual techniques are easily learned, and, once learned, they become subconscious, and so are never forgotten. Approach refers to the type of control taught by the VV Approach™ course - Approach Control. This is the control regime within a Terminal Area, or the controlled airspace surrounding a busy airport. Approach Control is generally accepted as the most complex form of Air Traffic Control because of the busy nature of traffic flow into and out of a very confined area, namely a common runway.

VV Approach™: Learning Modes

Traditionally, Air Traffic Control has been taught using a heuristic, or problem-solving, approach whereby various air traffic scenarios are presented in a simulator environment, and the trainee is required to manage effectively these scenarios in real time. Strategies for coping with each scenario are learned by exposure to the scenarios, rather than through organised instruction. In contrast, VV Approach™ uses an algorithmic, or step-by-step, approach, that provides trainees with a developmental sequence of proven air traffic management strategies devised by experts in the field. This structural framework of strategies ensures that trainees have a solid foundation of skills that can be applied to an extensive range of Air Traffic Control problems. The algorithmic training approach means that trainees no longer need to devise their own strategies while training, only to find later that they may not be as appropriate or effective in a real-time environment. Instead, trainees can now benefit from an expert, step-by-step model in VV Approach™, enabling them to develop their own cognitive framework of coping strategies to take to sector specific training.

Learning Opportunities offered by VV Approach™

Learning Opportunity Explanation
Learning Methodology The VV Approach™ lessons are designed as a step-by-step guide to mastering the complex set of techniques required for the job of approach control.


Segmentation and Chunking As each component skill (segment) is mastered by the student, it becomes so simple that it becomes second nature, and takes very little effort to use. These simple skills can then be "chunked" to form more complex skills that may be automatically accessed, thereby reducing the cognitive load for that task.
Skill Acquisition When a new skill is being acquired, the learning curve is steep due to the increased cognitive demand associated with learning a novel concept. The time required to acquire these new skills is not always available in existing training programs. VV Approach™ provides greatly increased opportunity for review and practice of these skills, and the flexibility for a student to be able to learn component skills at his/her own pace, and under no pressure.
Structuring Problem-Based Learning Higher ability students need less structure in problem solving for learning. But, in the real-time environment of ATC, the cognitive load such that even these students need some structure. VV Approach™ provides a basis for the learning of an expert model, allowing students to construct their own cognitive framework in further training and in new scenarios they may encounter on the job. This saves time and improves learning outcomes.
Analogous Learning of Alternative Models in the Workplace Once the VV Approach™ model is firmly entrenched in the student's mind, he/she will have a reliable skills-base for performing the task of Radar Approach Control, and for learning new skills on the job. Analogous learning can now occur in the workplace as novel situations arise, or on observation of techniques and models utilised by other professionals. These comparisons and adjustments are ongoing as each controller develops an individual controlling style, based on the VV Approach™ framework.
Reduction of Distracting Environmental Factors Computer-Based Training removes factors such as instructor effects, performance anxiety, novel environments, personality clashes and competition with peers, all of which can be detrimental to the learning process. Where required, these factors may be introduced at later stages of training after sound formative skills have been acquired.To summarise, VV Approach™ changes the learning environment from a high to low-stress one, reducing one of the most significant obstacles to success.