Safety occurrences during on-the-job training

Safety occurrences during on-the-job training

What we have been informed

  • According to the recent report “Analysis of ATC related Incidents” 10% of the analysed safety occurrences are associated with the contextual condition ”controller under training”;
  • This fact alone does not give sufficient indication of the scale of the problem, unless statistics are made available to establish the relationship between the total number of sector hours and number of sector/hours during on-the-job training at global/centre level for a specified time period;
  • Independent of the above argument there is concern from some ANSPs of an increasing trend in such events;
  • “lack of attention of the coach” was reported as significant during the second hour in working position and was reported as “infrequent to none” during the first 10 minutes;

What are the potential explanations

  • Insufficient awareness by the instructors of the level of competence of the student or trainee they are supervising;
  • The instructor allowing the situation to develop for the purpose of training;
  • Distraction of the instructor;
  • An unmanaged mismatch between the simulator exercise timing (often between 45 minutes and 1 hour) and the time on the position (often 2 hours);
  • General inconsistency between the ab-initio and on-the-job training programmes in terms of:
    • Level of knowledge and skills required to start on-the-job training;
  • General inconsistency between the simulator and on-the-job training process in terms of:
    • Change of instructors;
    • Change in system support provided by the SIM facility and OPS system;
    • Specific operational environment not known to the needed level of detail;
    • Unrealistic simulation environment, including aircraft performance and coordination procedures;
  • Generally humans are not good at monitoring tasks and the OJTI (on-the-job training instructor) role demands a high degree of monitoring;

What are the potential solutions

  • It is the OJTI who is responsible for the safety of the ATC service being provided under supervision. Therefore consider:
    • Identifying needs for and implement improvements in the selection and training of the OJTI;
    • Clearly define and document the roles and responsibilities of the OJTI and implement them in OJTI training programme;
    • Limiting the time on the OJT position;
    • Providing refresher training on coaching techniques and error recovery to OJTI on a regular basis;
    • Introducing a regular meeting forum for the OJTI for exchanging lessons learned and good practices and for supporting drafting the respective Unit/ANSP Training Plan;
    • The arrangements of how to share the situational awareness and the plan of work between OJTI and the trainee;
    • When and how to take over the control from the trainee, including the take over of communication by using appropriate switch/pedal to activate the transmitter;
    • How to perform hand-over take over/take over of the position, including introducing appropriate checklists;
    • Ensuring the OJTI is briefed on the level of proficiency of the student/trainee;
    • Consider a competence scheme for OJTIs;
  • Ensuring that the ANSP has a procedure to provide an assurance that students and trainees are appropriately trained and licensed;
  • Consider limiting the number of permitted OJTIs per trainee, ideally one by one;
  • Consider restricting simultaneous OJT on two positions of one sector or two adjacent sectors;
  • Consider incremental increase of complexity of the training programme - defining training phases and communicating the objectives and progress of the phase, including strong and weak points;
  • Consider introducing the practice of briefings and de-briefings between the OJTI and the trainee;
  • Review the training programmes to ensure that they reflect the knowledge and skills required for:
    • collision avoidance;
    • emergency situations;
  • Ensure smooth transition from simulator to on-the-job training, including ensuring:
    • sufficient time on simulator;
    • training in emergency and unusual situations;
    • identical system support;
    • simulation environment as close as possible to the operational environment;
  • Consider possibility for OJTI and student to be able to use simulation facilities during OJT so that certain experiences occurring with live traffic can be repeated in a simulated environment in order to maximise the lessons learned.


© European Organisation for Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) September 2005. This alert is published by EUROCONTROL for information purposes. It may be copied in whole or in part, provided that EUROCONTROL is mentioned as the source and to the extent justified by the non-commercial use (not for sale). The information in this document may not be modified without prior written permission from EUROCONTROL. The use of the document is at the user’s sole risk and responsibility. EUROCONTROL expressly disclaim any and all warranties with respect to any content within the alert, express or implied.


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