Academy Developers are SPOT on with Training
Vol.5 Issue 7
Todd Poole preparing the SPOT software for classroom use.

For students training in the FAA Academy’s Tower Cab, having the skill of situational awareness is imperative. Todd Poole, with over 24 years in the air traffic control environment and having expertise in tower training, realized that having this skillset was an important issue. Todd along with Robert Enos, a Simulation Software Developer in the Air Traffic’s CBI and Curriculum Support Section (AMA-520A) decided to see if they could develop something, patterned off the PRACTICE software. PRACTICE is Practical Radar Airspace Control Training Interface Computer Exercise, an interactive game that allows the user to better understand the maneuvering of virtual aircraft within a restricted space and time.

FAA Academy software developers have already developed a spin-off of PRACTICE, called INSTRUCT (Interactive Structured Training Using Conceptualization Tool) where air traffic control instructors can create air traffic scenarios on a screen, allowing students to participate in a variety of air traffic situations. INSTRUCT was developed using some of the same concepts as the TETRA (Ten, Eleven, Twelve Radar Assessment) project. TETRA became an essential part of air traffic training, especially for those students having no prior air traffic control training. TETRA takes the software PRACTICE to a new level, incorporating simulation and integration of ground, network and air links, wake turbulence re-categorization, approaches, speed, and altitude profiles.

Using the electronic board, students can see the movement of air traffic and potential conflicts using SPOT software.
This is the Instructor’s point of view using SPOT from the computer screen.

And now, with months of trials, SPOT (Situation Planning and Outcomes for Tower) is the latest modernized version of tower training for Academy students. There are three primary different air traffic patterns surrounding a tower – the jet pattern, the twin engine pattern, and the single engine pattern. SPOT software is based on the unique characteristics of these aircraft, as having knowledge of such factors is key to helping navigate a safe takeoff and landing, as well as spacing. It benefits air traffic controllers if they have an understanding about various aircraft, as each aircraft varies in their flight characteristics.

One of the advantages about SPOT is that it has rewind capability. This function allows students to try the exercise, and if they don’t get it right, they can replay it to see exactly where they could have changed their decision-making process. "We’re here to help the students and help them in understanding the significance of the role they play in providing safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic," says Todd Poole, Section Manager of the FAA Academy’s Air Traffic CBI & Curriculum Support Section (AMA-520). With SPOT, students can now sequence their tower activities and get a better understanding of controlling aircraft.

Academy instructors are currently testing SPOT software to analyze its feasibility. If all goes as planned, SPOT may be introduced to the FAA Academy’s air traffic students within the next 6 months.

SPOT Training Video

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