Air Traffic Scenarios - Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test

Air Traffic Scenarios - Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test

Air Traffic Scenarios - Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test

Following the lunch break, you'll start the most enjoyable part of the AT-SAT: the Air Traffic Scenarios. It is also the only section making use of the headset. In these, you will be looking at a simulation of a radar screen which shows a sector, represented by a large square. In the middle of each side of the sector is an exit point, labeled from A to D. In the upper right and lower left corners are two runways, labeled e and f (in lowercase, for clarity). Planes should only be landed in one direction on each runway, which is indicated by two labeled arrows on the upper right of the screen, outside of the square.

At any given moment, you will have a number of planes (typically 2-5; only two or three times did it get at high as 6-7), represented by an arrow pointing in the direction that the plane is moving in. Next the the plane is a letter, a number, and another letter. The first letter indicates the planes speed, and will be either F, M or S for fast, medium and slow. The number indicates altitude and will be from 1 to 4. The second letter shows the destination of each plane, corresponding with the six possible destinations in the sector. To give two examples, a plane marked F3B is moving fast, is at altitude level 3, and needs to pass through exit B; M2f is moving at medium speed, is at altitude level 2, and needs to land at the f runway.

Reflections and Advice on the AT-SAT

Planes are controlled by clicking on the arrow -- not the letter/number combination -- and selecting one of the controls, which are on the right side of the screen. Only one control may be issued at a time, so if a plane needs multiple changes, it must be re-selected each time. When a plane has been selected, it will turn yellow and -must- receive a command before another plane can be selected (although issuing the same command that a plane is already following is fine). The screen will update every seven seconds; planes are motionless between those times.

From time to time, a new plane will appear at random somewhere within your section. New planes appear first in grey, and once they are clicked upon, they will turn white. After the next update, they will then turn green and are controllable.

On the first command given to a plane, it will respond "Roger," followed by a confirmation of the direction given. Subsequent commands are only acknowledged "Roger". Feedback is also subtitled on the bottom right of the screen. Occasionally a plane will misunderstand an order and do something different -- for example, head in a direction other than the one you just issued. This will -only- happen directly after giving an order, so a plane will not suddenly wander off into another direction unannounced. When this happens, just re-issue the command. This only happened three times or so for me, so it's not a major concern.

Obviously, crashing two planes into each other will affect your score negatively (and will result in an exploding sound which you can hear across the room, even with the headsets... you'll know when your neighbor screwed up). Procedural errors will also count negatively. These include flying over an airport without landing a plane and failing to maintain 5 miles of separation laterally between planes or the edges of the sector (as indicated by a scale shown on the right side). When you commit a procedural error, the plane(s) in question will be marked in red. In maintaining separation between planes, separate altitudes is considered acceptable -- take advantage of this, as keeping all planes at the same level will result in overcrowding and several errors.

Planes headed through one of the four exits must be moving fast and at altitude level 4. Planes landing must be moving slow and at altitude level 1. Failure to do either of these is considered a procedural error, although planes will be marked in red to demonstrate this.

After the practice section, the Scenario is split into four scored parts -- the first four last for 900 seconds each, and the last for 1500 seconds. Following each section, you will be taken to a screen that gives a partial evaluation of your performance. While this doesn't show your actual score, the information can be helpful in figuring out how to improve your performance. You are shown how many planes crashed, how many procedural errors you committed, how many planes (out of the total) were taken to the correct destination, an efficiency score, a composite of how many seconds it took you to move planes to their destination (contrasted with an "ideal" time), and how long it took you to receive handoffs. It is not made clear if the latter parts were also included in the score. It is also unclear how efficiency is determined; in my own test, I was rated at efficiencies in the 90's for the first three sections and 100% for the last one, although I wasn't sure how I had performed differently in each (I had no procedural errors or crashes in any, and my time scores seemed consistent).

Following this section will be the final 15 minute break. While the last two sections aren't as demanding, I would still advise taking it to clear your head. Your call, hotshot.

Tips: Be aware of the need to keep planes separated to avoid procedural errors. Using altitudes wisely will help to do this. Planes that are exiting the sector should -always- be at level 3 or 4, planes that are landing should -always- be at 1 or 2. I used 1 and 4 as the "approach" altitudes for planes that were just about ready to leave/land, and 2 and 3 as "holding pattern" altitudes when necessary. Keep in mind that the lateral separation isn't a concern when planes are at different altitudes and take advantage of it; I frequently had planes flying over and under each other without any problem.

You'll need to balance keeping things as efficient and quick as possible with not running them into each other. Planes should be moving at the Fast speed as often as possible. However, if you have three planes approaching a runway together, don't be afraid to bump one down to Medium or Slow to maintain a safe distance. Just remember to speed it back up afterwards -- if planes are still in the air when the scenario ends, they are counted as failing to reach their destination. The computer will not give you a plane if there is not enough time to land/exit it.

Finally, keep a healthy distance from both the airport and sector edges. Look in advance where a plane will be flying -- if a plane headed to an exit is on a course that will take it over an airport, change its direction early in case you're not able to get to it quickly later.

Comparison to Jeremy Justice's version: The online version of Scenarios was a -huge- help. If you do well online, you'll do well on the AT-SAT. The AT-SAT Scenario updates much more slowly (7 seconds as opposed to 1) and tends to have fewer planes on the screen at any given time. Also, the runway landing direction will not change as it does online. Planes do tend to move further at higher speed on the AT-SAT, though, so if you're flying a plane in for a landing at high speed, be sure to slow it down earlier than you're used to or you'll commit a procedural error. Runway widths tend to be more forgiving on the AT-SAT than they were online as well.

Practice: ATC Simulation

Compared to the Green Book: Don't bother with the Green Book version, as the online one is much more similar and well-made. (Free too!)
Written by Rosstafari