ATC simulator is first of its kind to be installed aboard a carrier

Michael Hardy, C4ISR & Networks

The USS Carl Vinson is home to a newly-installed air traffic control simulator, the first of its kind aboard a Navy aircraft carrier. It allows the vessel’s air traffic controllers to train on various scenarios.

“Normally we don’t have any flight operations we can simulate while we’re in port,” said Chief Air Traffic Controller Keith Thompson, quoted at “Now that we have this simulator, we can come here and simulate flight operations any given day.”

Thompson is leading chief petty officer in the Vinson’s carrier air traffic control center (CATCC).

The simulator is expected to give the ship’s air traffic controllers an edge. “I can sit a new air traffic controller in front of the system and he can run simulators,” said Thompson. “That way, when we experience live [air] traffic, he’ll be proficient because he’s seen it, he’s done it, and he’s familiar with the phraseology we use during the real thing.”

“It really strengthens our team,” said CATCC Leading Petty Officer Air Traffic Controller 1st Class David Shoemaker, also quoted at “If you have more people who are fully qualified to handle live traffic, you have a lot more experience and confidence in the room, should any emergency arise during flight operations.”

Thompson said the simulator, which will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet, is “one of the most impactful improvements in carrier air traffic control in a long time.”

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