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Strengthening global ATC training partnerships

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trenten Walters
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The German Military Aviation Authority visited the 334th Training Squadron to witness the foundational training service members receive as air traffic controllers, Feb. 12.

The visit to Keesler was part of a larger tour for the GMAA to learn about the training our Air Traffic Controllers undergo from Basic Military Training to operating as essential eyes in the sky.

“USAFE and USAREUR-AF airfield operations have been fortunate to have a great working relationship with our host nation counterparts in Germany,” said Patricia Hyland, HQ USAFE-AFAFRICA/A3AA airspace and airfield operations, air traffic management, communication, navigation, and surveillance chief. “Building partnerships is an essential part of our military success in Europe. Sharing information on how we train and certify our U.S. military air traffic controllers allows us to identify efficiencies and is a large part of building continued trust and confidence in our programs. This tour allowed them to observe firsthand how our ATC schoolhouse conducts training and produces outstanding professionals. This collaboration with our partners guarantees continued operations of our airfield and assures airspace access for training and mission support.”

The GMAA toured various 334th TRS training facilities, such as the MaxSim ATC tower simulator and simulated radar control room. They also discussed how the schoolhouse provides quality training in a condensed time period, as 334th TRS ATC course compresses two to four years of curriculum into just over 70 days, making it one of the more challenging courses of all Air Force Specialty Codes.

“The biggest takeaways from this tour were the common challenges that both of our nations face with regards to our air traffic control career field’s health and sustainability,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andre Heags, 334th TRS ATC Training superintendent. “We share very similar concerns with regards to training and we were able to share some innovative ideas that we hope will positively affect our training pathway.”

The group also discussed the significant role of front-line supervisors and facility managers in mentoring, training, and leading the next generation of our nation's Airmen, and how their investment is crucial to the students’ success.

“The visit sparked conversation on collaborating at the first levels of training to ensure that both of our nations continue to produce qualified, capable, and professional Airmen, warfighters and air traffic controllers,” said Heags. “The exchange of information was very beneficial to establish open lines of communication across not only our respective technical training environments, but also at Major Command and Headquarters Air Force levels on how to partner in the future with our allied nations for the future fight.”