Training for On-the-Job-Training-Instructors (OJTI)

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Training for On-the-Job-Training-Instructors (OJTI)

55TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Las Vegas, USA, 14-18 March 2016

WP No. 311

Training for On-the-Job-Training-Instructors (OJTI)

Presented by PLC


This paper presents a proposal to introduce a suite of competency-based training criteria as guidance material to the IFATCA Technical and Professional Manual for On-the-Job-Training Instructors.


1.1.  ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for air traffic controller (ATC) licences are found in Chapter 4 of Annex 1 to The Convention on International Civil Aviation.

1.2.  Annex 1 contains the requirements an applicant must meet to be issued an ATC licence including knowledge in air law, air traffic control equipment and human performance. It also contains the knowledge requirements for the various ATC ratings.

1.3.  ICAO Doc 9868 – Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Training (PANS-TRG) is designed to complement the SARPs contained in Annex 1. It specifies in greater detail the procedures to be applied by training organisations when providing training for aeronautical personnel including the development and implementation of competency-based training programs designed to the Annex 1 requirements.

1.4.  The current edition of PANS-TRG (including amendments to 2014) does not require States to implement competency-based training and assessment for ATM personnel. State Letter AN 15/53 proposes an amendment to PANS-TRG to include procedures for the implementation of competency- based training and assessment for ATCs. However, there are no provisions in the proposed amendment for the on-the-job-training-instructor (OJTI) role for ATCs.

1.5.  Annex 1 impliedly recognises the importance of the OJTI role. To be issued with an ATC licence an applicant must complete ‘an approved training course… in the actual control of air traffic control under the supervision of an appropriately rated air traffic controller’ [my bolding]. Furthermore, an ATC can only ‘supervise the provision’ of an air traffic control service after receiving ‘proper authorisation from the Contracting State’ to carry out instruction in an operational environment.

1.6.  Given this, it is reasonable that States may seek guidance as to what constitutes an appropriately rated ATC properly authorised to perform the role of OJTI. At a recent ICAO- led IFATCA training workshop (55th Annual IFATCA Conference, Bulgaria 2014) it was discussed that it might be useful to develop guidance material for the implementation of competency-based training and assessment for ATCs performing the OJTI role.

1.7.  The purpose of this working paper is twofold. Firstly, the paper will review existing material, both international and from State regulators. Secondly, the paper will draw upon the reviewed material and other sources to propose an amendment to the IFATCA Technical and Professional Manual to include guidance material for members to implement competency-based training for ATCs performing as OJTIs.

1.8.  However, it should be noted this proposed competency framework is for the OJTI role only. There may be additional competencies and knowledge required, and perhaps even a separate qualification, for the formal assessment of ATCs. The formal assessment of ATCs is not addressed in this paper.



2.1.1.  It takes more than just a sound knowledge of air traffic control rules, procedures and processes to make a competent OJTI. There are a number of other competencies critical to the OJTI to ensure not only the trainee is given every opportunity to reach a rating standard but, more importantly, to ensure on-the-job training does not compromise safety.

2.1.2.  Although there is little international guidance for OJTI competencies, performance criteria and training, there are references in various ICAO documents and IFATCA policy that are useful.

2.2. ICAO

2.2.1.  ICAO Doc 9426 – Air Traffic Services Planning Manual notes that ‘on-the-job training is the most significant element of the training process and the ability to handle people firmly but compassionately should therefore be a major criterion in the selection of supervisory personnel.

2.2.2.  ICAO Doc 9683 – Human Factors Training Manual provides more guidance noting the task of on-the-job ‘coach’ is a demanding one, that not all controllers make good ‘coaches’ nor do they necessarily want to become coaches at all. It posits OJT coaches (instructors):

i)  must be proficient and confident in their own skills;

ii)  must be able to handle a traffic situation through another person; and

iii)  must be able to teach skills while maintaining overall command of the situation.

2.2.3.  The Human Factors Training Manual also recognises that there are principles and techniques unique to OJT and instructors should be aware of these to ensure the training is efficient and the standard of air traffic control is maintained. Presumably, this is why it concludes, ‘coaching’ is a specialized task carried out in addition to controlling aircraft and controllers undertaking this task should have a ‘certain amount of operational experience’.

2.2.4.  As for the course delivery, Annex 1 requires ATC candidates to complete an approved course in actual air traffic control (on-the-job training) before being issued a licence (see para 1.5).. Whilst an approved training course is not defined in Annex 1, approved training is defined as training conducted under special curricula and supervision approved by a contracting state. An approved training organisation delivers approved training.

2.2.5. The approved training organisation must provide a training and procedures manual that will contain, amongst other things, a description of the procedures used to establish and maintain the competence of instructional personnel. The competence of instructional personnel shall also be in accordance with procedures and to a level acceptable to the Licensing Authority and shall include training in knowledge and skills related to human performance.

2.2.6. Summarising, whilst ICAO documentation provides little in the way of detail for OJTI competencies, performance criteria and training for OJTIs, it does recognise the importance of the OJTI role and notes some of the broad competencies required. Furthermore, the requirement to properly authorise an ATC to supervise the provision of air traffic control implies a requirement for Contracting States to provide appropriate training for potential OJTIs. Guidance as to how to develop appropriate training material is provided by PANS-TRG.


2.3.1.  IFATCA has developed significant policy for OJTI aptitudes, competencies and training including:

The selection of controllers as OJT instructors should not only be made on the basis of experience but also on motivation and instructional aptitude. (Copenhagen 78.C.12, amended Bournemouth 92.C.8)

All OJT instructors should attend a suitable course of training in order to increase their awareness of the techniques available in OJT and of the application of such techniques. (Copenhagen 78.C.13)

Apart from being validated on the sector concerned, a controller should not be engaged in training student controllers unless he/she has at least two years operational experience and has been validated on that sector for at least six months. (Copenhagen 78.C.15, amended Geneva 01.C.5)


2.3.2.  Further guidance is found in the IFATCA Policy Document on Training embedded in the Technical and Professional Manual. IFATCA policy aligns with the ICAO Human Factors Training Manual recommending that the selection of OJTIs not only be made on the basis of experience but also on motivation and instructional aptitude (see paras 2.2.2 and 2.2.3).

2.3.3.  IFATCA policy also suggests OJTIs should undertake suitable training to increase both awareness of OJT techniques and their application.

2.3.4.  Summarising, IFATCA policy is that OJTIs must not only have at least two years operational experience including at least six months on the sector where the training is to occur, but they must be motivated and have the necessary instructional aptitude. They must also undertake suitable training that includes, amongst other things, OJT specific techniques and their application.


2.4.1. ICAO favours a competency-based approach to training and assessment. ICAO’s preference for this approach was further confirmed at the ICAO workshop conducted at the IFATCA Conference at Sofia in 2015. This approach is characterised by a performance orientation, emphasis on standards of performance and their measurement, and the development of training to the specified performance standards. Specific competencies and their standards are defined, training is based on these competencies and assessment is based on whether they have been achieved.

2.4.2.  PANS-TRG provides a thorough guide for developing competency-based training and assessment through the application of the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model. Although the paper will review examples of Member States’ OJTI training material and, in some cases, it may appear to be aligned with the competency-based approach, it can’t be assumed that it was developed in accordance with the ISD model.

2.4.3.  The IFATCA policy document on training is clear in that its intention is not to provide detail regarding course content. IFATCA advocates that formal training courses for ATC students should be at ICAO approved training colleges. Finally, the IFATCA policy document on training asserts ‘the ICAO Training Manual Part D-2 Air Traffic Control in conjunction with ICAO Annex 1 and the relevant Technical Assistance Guideline provides instructors and training officers with sufficient information on [course content]’.

2.4.4.  Given IFATCA’s endorsement of ICAO guidance on course content, and also given ICAO’s preferred methodology to training and assessment is a competency-based approach, guidance material proposed by this working paper for incorporation into the training section of the Technical and Professional Manual (TPM) will adopt the same approach.


2.5.1. In Australia, the ATC qualification ‘on-the-job training instructor’ is created by regulation. It’s attached to the ATCO’s licence and certifies the holder is competent to perform a particular ancillary function. In the hierarchy of licence, rating (rating endorsement) and endorsement (unit endorsement), it sits below the endorsement and is the equivalent of a Licence Endorsement in Europe.

2.5.2.  The Part 65 Manual of Standards (MOS) is designed to complement the regulations and provide more detail around the OJTI qualification including the more substantial role description to ‘deliver on-the-job instruction in both a live and simulated on-the-job environment’ and ‘deliver instruction to small groups’. Significantly, it also requires an applicant for an OJTI qualification and to demonstrate competence against certain standards. These standards align with the ICAO approach in PANS-TRG and define specific competencies against which candidates are trained and assessed.

2.5.3.  Civil Aviation Safety Regulations make it clear that nothing prevents an ANSP from further defining the responsibilities attached to the OJTI qualification, provided details of the necessary training and tests of competency are contained in its operations manual and are in accordance with the MOS.

2.5.4.  Australia’s ANSP, Airservices Australia, has incorporated, in toto, the competency requirements found in the MOS into its own training material. They have also developed a form for trainees to provide feedback on the OJTI.

2.5.5.  There is no regulated minimum time an ATC has to have held an ATC licence, rating or endorsement before being qualified as a OJTI.

2.5.6.  Australia has a separate qualification for the formal assessment of ATCs (and other operational staff). The competency framework for the formal assessment of ATCs is beyond the scope of this paper.


2.6.1. Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/340 of 20 Feb 2015 (the Regulation) defines the technical requirements and administrative procedures relating to ATCO licences pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008. Applicants shall:

(a)  hold an air traffic controller licence with a valid unit endorsement;

(b)  have exercised the privileges of an air traffic controller licence for a period of at least two years immediately preceding the application. This period can be shortened to not less than one year by the competent authority when requested by the training organisation; and

(c) within the year preceding the application, have successfully completed a practical instructional techniques course during which the required knowledge and pedagogical skills are taught and have been appropriately assessed.

2.6.2. For on-the-job training, the Regulation only requires that a course be developed by training organisations consisting of practical instructional techniques including assessment. The competent authority must also approve the course. Competent authorities are those designated or established in accordance with Article 4 of Regulation (EC) 549/2004. This would normally be the regulator, for example EASA, but would not be an ANSP.

2.6.3. Although Eurocontrol Safety Regulation Requirement (ESARR) has been incorporated into Regulations, it did provide advice on the acceptable means of compliance for authorising OJTIs. It recognised the following courses as complying with ESARR 5 requirements including:

  • EATM ATCO Development Training OJTI course (HRS/TSP-004-GUI-06, Edition 1.0, 8th April 2004); and
  • OJTI Refresher course (HRS/TPS-004-GUI-01, Edition 1.0, 10th August 2001).

2.6.4. Guidelines for the assessment of OJTIs can be found in the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation document Guidelines for Competence Assessment. The document details the Prime Tasks and Sub Tasks the OJTI will be assessed against and lists them in table format.

2.6.5. Approved courses for OJTI are developed and delivered by a number of private training organisations.


2.7.1.  Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Order JO 3120.4N prescribes the instructions, standards and guidance for the administration of air traffic technical training including for OJTIs. The Federal Aviation Authority requires the completion of a mandatory course to qualify as an ATC OJTI (Course 55049 – Fundamentals of ATC On-The-Job Instruction (OJTI)).

2.7.2.  Although the process to achieve an OJTI qualification, including the eligibility criteria, is well documented, there is no regulated set of competency requirements for OJTI qualification.

OJTI Competency Framework

3.1.  Given the proposed amendment to ICAO Doc 9868 –Training (PANS-TRG) PLC have decided the most useful format for guidance material for ATCs performing the OJT role is in the form of a competency-based framework.

3.2.  The paper draws upon material from ICAO, IFATCA, Australia, Europe and the United States to propose an ATC OJTI competency framework including knowledge requirements. It’s suggested Member Associations could use this to form the basis of their own competency framework adapting it to suit their particular requirements.

3.3.  The proposed framework consists of three broad categories: instruction skills, coaching skills and evaluation skills.

3.4.  Within each category are ‘competency units’. For convenience, competency units are aligned to the various phases of training (preparation, delivery, de-brief, etc).

3.5.  Finally, competency elements consist of specific criteria and observable behaviours the assessors can use to gather evidence of the competency of the OJTI.


4.1.  The ATC OJTI qualification was highlighted at the Sofia Conference during an ICAO-led IFATCA workshop as one that could benefit from a review in a competency-based context.

4.2.  The proposed amendment to PANS-TRG in ICAO State Letter AN 15/53 demonstrates ICAO’s endorsement of competency-based training and assessment.

4.3.  This paper proposes a suite of specific competencies based on existing ICAO, IFATCA and national policies and practice to support Member Associations with the implementation of competency-based training for OJTIs.


5.1. That the ATC OJTI COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK as listed in Annex 1 to this working paper be incorporated as guidance material into the IFATCA policy document on training in the Technical and Professional Manual.

Annex – ATC OJTI Competency Framework


      Competency              Competency                               Performance Criteria
             Unit                         Element                                   Observable Behaviour

1. Preparation Conduct pre-OJT preparation i. reviews training history and current ability including any ongoing issues
ii. ensures licensing requirements are met for training to occur
iii. ensures understanding of relevant units of competency to identify the evidence required
Conduct the pre-OJT briefing i. puts trainee at ease
ii. explains clearly to the trainee the relevant competency standards
iii. reviews learning from previous sessions and (if appropriate) checks understanding
iv. set goals for the session that are aligned with identified competencies
v. reviews relevant procedures
vi. explains the circumstances requiring intervention in the operational environment
vii. uses a variety of instructional aids to assist the briefing
viii. provides an opportunity for trainees to ask questions
2. Delivery Ensure safety i. ensures safety is not compromised
ii. corrects trainee in a timely manner
iii. intervenes to ensure safety is not compromised (if necessary)
iv. ensures intervention (if required) is managed safely and efficiently
Ensure efficiency i. ensures, as far as practicable, core traffic efficiency is maintained including impact on adjacent sectors
Instruct effectively i. ensures the trainee receives a comprehensive handover
ii. monitors the trainee’s performance continuously
iii. ensures the trainee is not overloaded
iv. provides an adequate level of support to the trainee
v. allows the trainee to make decisions appropriate to their level of competence and training
vi. maintains appropriate seating position and distance with respect to the trainee
vii. ask questions to confirm understanding of decision making at appropriate times and in a clear manner
viii. provides feedback in a timely and appropriate manner without causing unnecessary distraction
ix. uses targeted training strategies and techniques to assist learning
x. ensures sufficient evidence is gathered so learning progress can be measured
3. De-briefing Trainee de-brief i. provides an opportunity for trainee to regroup and recover prior to de- brief
ii. discusses critical traffic occurrences and interventions at the beginning of the de-brief
iii. provides an opportunity for trainee to self-evaluate performance and identify areas for improvement
iv. provides clear and comprehensive feedback based on the stated goals of the session
v. reinforces and clearly states trainee strengths
vi. seeks feedback on OJTI performance
4. Attitude Create a safe learning environment i. shows involvement
ii. responds to symptoms of stress and/or overload in the trainee
iii. provides support and inspires (gives confidence, encourages, stimulates)
iv. acts alternately as ATCO, coach, assessor or instructor and keeps these rolls separated
v. shows patience
vi. contributes to the creation of self-awareness, responsibility and self-belief of the trainee
vii. reflects critically on own professional performance
5. Communication Optimize interaction i. listens actively
ii. formulates in a concrete and clear manner
iii. asks questions, interrogates, structures and summarizes
iv. identifies non-verbal communication
v. determines whether the student has understood everything
6. Evaluation and Assessment Establish evidence i. ensures evidence is aligned with the correct competencies
ii. ensures sufficient evidence has been gathered across the relevant competencies
iii. explains clearly the evaluation or assessment procedure and the expectations of the OJTI
iv. discusses the context and purpose of the evaluation with the student
Evaluate evidence i. evaluate the trainees performance against the stated competencies using the gathered evidence
ii. determines if the evidence supports an assessment of the trainee as ‘competent’ or not
iii. identifies areas where the trainee has not been assessed as competent
iv. identifies any gaps in the trainees knowledge
Assessing i. assesses only actually experienced situations
ii. determines if the level of performance is sufficient, considering the required level of that time
iii. gives an overall impression of the performance of the trainee
7. Planning Planning i. details ongoing strategies for improvement
ii. sets specific training strategies to address any areas of deficiency
iii. discusses opportunities for overcoming any gaps in competency, as revealed by the learning evaluation, with the trainee
8. Reporting Written report i. meets enterprise and legislative requirements for the recording of training details
ii. writes clear, complete, concise and easy to understand reports
iii. uses language that is objective and respectful
iv. provides evidence against specific competency standards
v. provides sufficient evidence to verify consistent achievement of learning outcomes (or otherwise) in relation to the specified standards
vi. addresses areas of both strength and weakness
vii. addresses issues of behaviour and attitude where applicable


Convention on International Civil Aviation, Annex 1

ICAO Doc 9868 – Procedure for Air Navigation Services – Training, (1st ed, 2006, amended 2014)

ICAO Doc 9426 – Air Traffic Services Planning Manual (1st ed (provisional) 1984)

ICAO Doc 9683 – Human Factors Training Manual (1st ed, 1998)

IFATCA Technical and Professional Manual (2015)

Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (Cth)

Manual of Standards Part 65, cl

European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, EAM5/AMC Acceptable means of compliance with ESARR 5 (2nd ed 2007)

European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, Guidelines for Competence Assessment (2nd ed 2005)

Last Update: October 1, 2020  

January 23, 2020   1241   Jean-Francois Lepage    2016    

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