Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003
4.1.11 Air Traffic Controller Training
The investigation found that two air traffic controllers involved in this occurrence believed that flight crews, for safety reasons, might turn off some aircraft electrical and radio systems during fuel dumping operations. This perception was used by the air traffic controllers to explain the cessation of radio communications and secondary radar information, which occurred immediately after the SR 111 flight crew had indicated that they were starting to dump fuel.
In emergency situations, the potential to minimize undesirable outcomes and enhance the service provided to flight crews could depend, in part, on the controller's awareness of the ramifications of special or emergency procedures conducted by those flight crews. Controller knowledge of flight crew expectations, and basic familiarity with the capabilities of commercial aircraft, could enhance their awareness of flight crews' operational needs.
Currently, there is no regulatory requirement for controllers in Canada to receive special training in the handling of aircraft emergencies, either during ab initio or refresher training.
Consequently, on 14 August 2001, the TSB issued an ASA (A010020-1) to TC suggesting that it review controller training requirements. Consideration should be given to the need for additional training regarding aircraft emergency scenarios prior to the initial issuance of a licence to air traffic controllers under the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Specifically, further training may be warranted that provides the requisite knowledge and skills so that controllers are better able to provide safe and expeditious air traffic control (ATC) services to aircraft experiencing emergency or distress conditions. The need for regular continuation training and refresher exercises regarding emergency scenarios should also be considered.
TC advised the TSB that it was liaising with the ATC service providers, Nav Canada and SERCO Aviation Services, to ensure the concerns noted in the TSB ASA are addressed.
Nav Canada developed and delivered a refresher training module during 19992000 and 20002001 training years for controllers, which included familiarization with an in-flight smoke or fire emergency. The training familiarized the controllers with the expectations and operational needs of pilots, and the capabilities of a commercial aircraft, during such an emergency situation.
In addition, on 11 July 2002, Nav Canada issued an amendment to its Air Traffic Control Manual of Operations to provide controllers with new direction regarding fuel dumping operations and, in particular, the following information. "It has been determined some aircraft may be incapable of making radio transmissions during a fuel dump however, all are capable of maintaining a listening watch on the frequency. As well, some aircraft must also turn off their transponders during the fuel dump procedure."
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