Enhancing safety competency: Visual Vectoring’s customized tool for Airservices Australia

Enhancing safety competency: Visual Vectoring’s customized tool for Airservices Australia

VV Compsep helps to streamline renewal checks, improve controller skills and allow better use of system simulators.

Airservices Australia (ASA) provides services that allow safe and equitable access to 11% of the world’s airspace, extending from the Coral Sea to the Indian Ocean. ASA’s world-leading safety system, includes regular refresher and recurrent training for all endorsed controllers and an over-the-shoulder endorsement renewal check every six months. As part of the continuous improvement process embraced by ASA, in 2015 Visual Vectoring was asked to customise a tool targeted at the specific competency of the response to a compromised separation event. This offering would supplement existing competency training whilst freeing up simulator time and training resources.

The specifications for this product were that it be presented on an interface that mimicked the Eurocat system, that local callsigns and phraseology would be used, and certain agreed performance characteristics, such as pilot response time and aircraft turn rate would be met. The most important criterion was that the system was tuned such that the speech recognition system would recognise an utterance only if a precisely correct phrase was used. This became VV Compsep.

Having completed development and testing, in mid-2016 the Visual Vectoring team travelled around the country to induct the local Check and Standardisation officers at 6 locations (4 Terminal Control Units and 2 Area Approach Units) around Australia. These highly experienced controllers recognised the benefit of this targeted solution, as it promoted correct phraseology and adeptness in conflict recognition whilst effectively generating the element of surprise, something that is difficult to achieve in traditional simulation.

By November 2016, the system was rolled out at all locations and was soon in use by over 600 surveillance controllers as part of their six-monthly licence renewal processes. Subsequently, as directed by ASA experts, other specific competencies were included as upgrades to the program, including response to unsafe proximity to restricted areas, emergency squawks, and MAYDAY/PAN calls To date, the VV CompSep simulation has been used in over 8,000 sessions, streamlining the licence renewal process and freeing up valuable simulator and training resources for better staffing and resource management.

At Visual Vectoring, we are proud to have played some role in contributing to the strong safety system at Airservices and owe thanks to the vision and commitment to safety shared by the project’s architects, Fiona Lawton, Steven Clarke, Paddy Goodall and Chris Carabott. We look forward to continuing support for ASA’s use of VV Compsep and assisting with training challenges into the future.