Thursday, April 17, 2008

Training Updates

There hasn't been all that much to report on the training front. I'm still working on the NAS Whiting sectors. I've been recommended for certification on two radar positions by two different instructors, however my supervisor wants all of the trainees to get a bit more experience with IFR/Marginal VFR operations.

The problem with our facility is that we handle so much Navy traffic and work so many specialized Navy procedures that the standard civilian stuff tends to fade a bit. For instance, two weeks ago was the first time I'd ever released an IFR aircraft out of an uncontrolled field while another IFR aircraft was inbound to that field. This of course required me to hold the inbound somewhere until the departing aircraft got airborne. I'd studied this kind of thing and it ended up being simple to work. I'd just never actually seen it in nearly six months of steady training.

What is becoming readily apparent is that there's simply no way to train you for every eventuality. Every day you work, you see something that you've never seen before. You work it, talk about it with your instructor, and put it away in your experience "toolbox". As you progress that toolbox continues to fill until you've got quite a few tools that you can call into action at a moment's notice.

The powers-that-be realize that you may not have seen every feasible scenario in the world. They just want to know that your judgment is sound and that you have enough experience to handle most scenarios safely. You of course have to be thoroughly versed on your airspace, your letters of agreement, and your operating procedures. Working knowledge of the 7110.65 as it relates to your facility is imperative as well. All that goes a long way to establishing a solid comfort level.

One thing that's been told to me repeatedly: even after you're checked out, you are absolutely encouraged to ask questions on stuff that you're not sure about. Most of the controllers I work with have no problem at all answering questions regarding all of the above. No matter how stupid the question may seem, you should get it answered.


Blue Eyed Buddhist said...

Entirely true- the key of the training program is to expose you to the majority of the situations you'll come across, but obviously you can't train for every possibility.

For example, you might go your entire career without ever having an aircraft call with engine failure.

But by training and simulating the wacky possibilities, and more importantly teaching you *how to think* in all kinds of situations, you can handle the novel stuff when it does happen- even if the first time you see something is after you're already signed off.

It can be very frustrating to trainees who are washed out because their instructors don't believe that they have those thinking skills. The instructor and supe might totally know that the student would flail (and utterly fail) if thrust into a novel situation, but the student is saying "hey, how can you hold me responsible for it if I haven't ever been exposed to it?"

The answer is pretty simple, although a bit cold: You just don't have "it".

At some point in your training you move from needing your hand held on everything the first time it happens to being able to "just do it" yourself. It's hard for some trainees to grasp; I'm glad you get it. :)

ac2usn said...

Keep Learning. The dumbest question is the one you do not ask. Sounds like you are working with a good group.