Aviation In Canada

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ATC Simulator

A software company in the US has produced an Air Traffic Control simulator program for some time, called ATC Simulator. I've never, personally, been incredibly happy with it, although many rave about it. I'll give it that it's better than the old Kennedy Approach for the Commodore 64 was 20 years ago, but there was something that just didn't make me enjoy it. Reportedly, they designed the look of the porgram to mimic US ATC radar displays very well, though I haven't seen one in person to say yes or no to it. Either way, it was interesting, if nothing else.

Why am I telling you this? Because radar has always been what most people think of when they think of ATC. Well, once they understand that air traffic controllers are not the guys who wave flashlights around at parking airplanes. There are several facets to the ATC world. Not getting the glory, but perhaps more difficult than any other type of ATC is referred to as "procedural" control. This is where IFR ATC has its roots. No radar, just pilots giving position reports and the ATC using his Mark I Brain and a set of rules to determine if separation exists, and if not, assigning pieces of airspace to make sure it does.

The same company who released the ATC Simulator radar product has now taken the next step, releasing a non-radar ATC simulator. You have flight progress strips and a clock to guide you and you must use your brain to figure out if you have separation and make it happen if you don't. I haven't seen how well this simulation actually simluates the environment, but the idea does sound interesting. I'd hate to buy a copy and be disappointed, but it would be neat to see. It's nice to get another aspect of ATC in the public eye, even though it may differ somewhat from how Canadian ATC operates.

Here's a link to their website, and you can find info about the new product there.