First students complete joint FAA/Chinese ATC training

 - September 13, 2006, 8:11 AM

Twenty students from China’s Air Traffic Management Bureau (ATMB) completed six months of U.S. training late last month and are returning home to put their new knowledge to work in that nation’s emerging civilian ATC system. The FAA and Chinese government initiated the program with the goal of training future leaders of China’s Air Traffic Management Bureau.

The program grew out of talks between FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and Yang Yuan Yuan, minister of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC). The U.S. and China have been working together on civil aviation issues for about 10 years, but neither side has been pleased with the progress.

In a conversation with Blakey about two years ago, Yang expressed concerns about the management capability and experience within the CAAC. That initiated the dialogue about what the U.S. could do to help the Chinese develop a stronger management corps within CAAC. Currently air traffic in China is controlled mostly by the Chinese military.

At about the same time the Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP)–an FAA effort to improve aviation safety and efficiency in Asia and throughout the world–was created, and it joined the dialogue.

“China is experiencing the most dramatic aviation-related growth in its history,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “At the crossroads of Asia, it faces many challenges as it moves forward with plans to expand and modernize its civil aviation infrastructure to meet increasing demand.” She said that the Olympics in 2008 and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 will also cause major surges in air traffic management.

The course work for the training program included sessions at a Boeing facility in Seattle; training at a Mitre facility in McLean, Va.; and a graduation ceremony at the FAA in Washington, D.C. The program was funded in large part by a U.S. Trade and Development Agency grant to CAAC on behalf of the ACP, in addition to significant in-kind contributions from ACP corporate members and the FAA. In addition to Boeing and Mitre, other ACP member companies include GE Aircraft Engines, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Metron, Parker Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and Rockwell Collins.

According to an FAA spokeswoman, the original intent of the program was to bring students from within China’s ATMB to develop management capability. But during the course of designing the program, the Chinese decided they wanted to extend the offering to CAAC in general.

Thirty-four students arrived for the kickoff at Boeing on April 3 for seven weeks
of training that included an overview of today’s aviation challenges in Asia and throughout the world. In June the 14 general CAAC specialists returned to China, while the remaining 20 from the ATMB began “in-depth management training for the air traffic environment.”

The group finished the classroom theoretical management phase in June and July, then last month was split among various FAA facilities and Mitre, where they shadowed mid-level managers and higher. This mentoring program gave them an opportunity to get briefings, sit in on meetings, work on projects and interact on a day-to-day basis.”

Because Yang made the final decision about program participants, the expectation is that they will be able to use what they have learned as they are promoted through the Chinese civil aviation system.

Blakey said she is “encouraged with the level of commitment within the [CAAC] to accommodate new operations and procedures in a way that enhances global interoperability while continuing to improve aviation safety throughout the region.”