SACTA: promoting knowledge with the University of León
At ENAIRE we have always wanted to introduce air navigation technology in the classroom. Our business is a great unknown; therefore, on many occasions we have thought how we could present it to society, and what a better way than engaging students from different technical disciplines.
We are aware of the importance of education in our society, as well as sharing our experience and knowledge.
- Communicate our technology, in an easy and accessible manner, in classrooms
- Share our “know how” to train better and more future professionals
Thanks to the University of León (ULE), we were provided the opportunity of entering the classrooms. The centre wanted to teach its students from the perspective of a real case scenario, in such a way that they could experience the real professional world using technologies that controllers employ on a daily basis.
We went about it and in 2016 we signed an agreement with the ULE to transfer the rights to use the Automated System of Air Traffic Control (SACTA)'s software, developed by ENAIRE, that our air traffic controllers employ.
Thanks to this initiative, the SACTA educational system was introduced in the University.
Since the academic year 2016/17, the software owned by ENAIRE has been installed in a simulator, provided by INDRA, that simulates a controller position in a control centre so it can be used by students of the Master's in Aeronautical Engineering and the Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering.
It can also be used by students of the Bachelor's in Computer Science or any other group within the dissemination activities related to aerospace engineering in the University of León.
The installed system is an accurate replica of the Spanish System of Air Traffic Control. It includes surveillance, simulating the data of air traffic control radars; it features a flight plan functionality, to have all the flight plans required to replicate reality; and it includes the possibility of adding all aeronautics and meteorology information, as well as any controller positions required to view the information and interact with the system in real-time.
The equipment used by the students is loaded with a simulation exercise that corresponds to the geographical area managed by the Madrid control centre, including a map of the entire Peninsula. It allows generating as many exercises as required or modifying the existing ones in real-time. It can also simulate the management of all flight stages.
This practical work is being taught by professors within the aerospace engineering department of the University of León, and they teach the subjects Air navigation and Air traffic management of the Bachelor's in Aerospace engineering, as well as the Design, management and certification of navigation systems module of the Master's in Aeronautical Engineering.
In the last academic year the University of León had 12,000 students, of which approximately 2,300 belonged to the Schools of Industrial, Computer and Aerospace Engineering. All these students were given the opportunity to control traffic from a real air controller position and put into practice the theory studied in the subjects. This initiative has been highly valued by most of the students and professors:
“The SACTA system installed in the University helps us explain technical aspects related to air traffic control that has no reference bibliography and are largely unknown outside the control centres” explains Carlos Rubio, adjunct professor of the Aerospace Engineering Department of the University of León, and adds that “it is a fantastic tool for teachers that allows teaching in a more efficient way and closing the gap between theory and practice.”
Students of the Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering of the ULE have also corroborated the positive experience of using the SACTA system. “Personally, the SACTA has helped me better and easily understand the subject of Air Traffic Management”, believes Álvaro Souto, who considers this tool to be very useful in helping him enter the world of employment. Furthermore, Irene Vada, underlines the “challenge” this system posed to the students: “SACTA brought out our wittier side: whoever planned the flights tried to present the controller with risk situations, who, in turn, tried to avoid any incident between aircraft by changing their route, speed or altitude.”
“Initiatives such as the SACTA educational system help us support teaching centres in the difficult mission of paving the path to employment for students”, says Milagros Gutiérrez, Head of ENAIRE's Director General Office. “We feel very honoured to be able to contribute with this programme to the education of students of the University of León and to promote in society knowledge related to such an important job, which contributes so much to the development of the country, as is that of an air traffic controller”.