Defence Innovation Network training solution for a Fifth Generation Air Force

Air Force Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) will soon get the benefit of additional training methods that will be made available through the  Defence Innovation Network (DIN).
Air Force Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) will soon get the benefit of additional training methods that will be made available through the  Defence Innovation Network (DIN).
 
In collaboration with the University of Newcastle (UoN) and University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Surveillance and Response Group (SRG) have secured a pilot project grant through the DIN to examine more focussed training that targets the high cognitive loading required by controllers when managing airspace in very challenging conditions.  
 
The grant obtained through the DIN, demonstrates how Defence utilises academics to maintain strength in capability within the Defence industry.   
 
Initial project developments include the delivery of new protocols for cognitive load assessment using a sample of undergraduate students from UoN; and collecting data at UTS, UoN and RAAF Base Williamtown.
 
The next phase will transfer the ‘matured protocol’ to trial with approximately 20-30 ATC training candidates involved in two waves throughout 2020.
 
Staff Officer Science - SRG, Mr Anselm Fatiaki said that partnering with local academic institutes with world-class research will assist in developing fifth-generation operators.
 
‘The DIN has enabled SRG to enhance their Science and Technology support - complementary to the Defence, Science and Technology Group programs, as well as shaping NSW academia priorities,’ Mr Fatiaki said.
 
With Number 44 Wing (No. 44WG) responsible for providing tactical control of airfields - there are eleven ATC flights that will benefit from the project; supporting the provision of ATC services (in some cases, both military and civilian) at Bases and airfields within Australia and on operational deployments.
 
Officer Commanding No. 44WG, Group Captain (GPCAPT) Ruth Elsley, said the project’s mission will have a positive outcome for operators.
 
“We are looking forward to continued collaboration with academic and industry partners as we continue to deliver a fifth generation workforce. 
 
“This partnership ensures we maintain strength in the performance of our ATC personnel which continues to be exceptional – noting their abilities to operate with the highest degree of situational awareness under high cognitive load,” GPCAPT Elsley said.
 
The DIN is a government supported initiative that offers up to $200,000 of NSW State funding to support collaboration between leading NSW universities, Industry and Defence.
 
The ATC DIN project is led by SRG, UoN and UTS with oversight from Defence Science and Technology Group. 
 
Additional contributors to the project include academics from Western Sydney University, University of Sydney and University of New South Wales.