A new strategic plan, to be implemented in 2019, will determine the ATC (Air Traffic Control) Division’s progress in the coming decade. Considering ATC Division’s critical role, the plan is bound to be of great significance

Carmel Stern

Col. Eran, Commander of the Air Traffic Control Division, began by saying that while the ATC Division has successfully adapted to individual changes over the years, it hasn’t taken a renewed and comprehensive look at its operational concepts in the past four decades. “Meanwhile, the technology, armament and UAV and Aerial Defense Divisions have progressed significantly, as did the threats, which aren’t as they were before. It is now the ATC Division’s turn to readjust itself to our ever-changing reality”.

Changes In The ATC Division

Photography: Idan Eldar

Planning Ahead
The ATC Division’s senior command has formulated a strategic plan that outlines the division’s progress in the next decade. The plan will be put into effect in 2019 and is expected to influence the entire air force. “After setting goals in a number of fields, we mapped out the ways we could execute the plan successfully, while looking five years into the future. This mapping is divided into small tasks that will make big difference”, explained Lt. Col. Tal, Deputy Commander of the ATC Division. “The strategic plan functions as a compass, it marks the place the division needs to be and the steps we have to take in order to get there”.

Complex Coordination
The nature of the ATC division’s cooperation with civilian aviation was also discussed in the planning process. In relation to its needs, Israel’s airspace is relatively small and is home to extensive training, operational activity and civil aviation. “Today our aerial infrastructure is definite, but we want to turn Israel’s airspace into a differential resource that can be divided in real-time, so that civilian aircraft would be able to fly in military airspace while it isn’t being used. This change will require complex coordination and could have safety repercussions, with safety being our top priority”, said Lt. Col. Tal.

Changes In The ATC Division

Photography: Idan Eldar

Looking to the Future
A drastic change occurred in ATC training in the year of 2000, when it was decided to separate regular air traffic control from mission oriented ATC and thus train each air traffic controller for his or her specific mission. Today, air traffic controller training in the IAF is about three years long. The division aims to optimize this training period and shorten it by six months, while also extending the air traffic controllers’ service from four to five years.

The division’s reserve and regular service personnel’s operational fitness will be maintained mostly through their relationship with the IAF Mission Training Center, where the fighter division conducts its simulated training. “It’s very hard to maintain combat fitness in the ATC units, as they deal with routine missions on a daily basis with no one to replace them”, said Lt. Col. Tal. “Training in the mission training center allows them to train for extreme scenarios”.

An ATC Academy will be built in the future and replace the ATC Division’s instruction center situated in Ouvda AFB. The academy will be established in Hatzor AFB, near the Mission Training Center. This will enable extensive cooperation between the units and optimize the training process.

Changes In The ATC Division

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