ATS Academy in the spotlight – Entry Point North
Entry Point North, with its headquarters in Malmö, Sweden, is a leading ATS academy training air traffic controllers and other aviation specialists coming from 150 customers in nearly 50 countries.
CEO Anne Kathrine Jensen tells us more about the fascinating world of ATC Training and the challenges they face.
AP Insights: Can you tell us more about Entry Point North?
Anne Kathrine Jensen: “The academy is Europe's largest educational institution of its kind and the second largest in the world, surpassed only by the United States’ Federal Aviation Authority. It has been established in 2005 and is owned through a joint partnership between three Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs): Naviair (Denmark), LFV (Sweden) and IAA (Ireland). The academy is a group of companies and has its training sites in Sweden, Ireland, Hungary, Denmark, Spain and Belgium. Additionally, training and services are delivered at client sites throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
AP Insights: What distinguishes EPN’s training philosophy and methodology?
Anne Kathrine Jensen: ”It is the way we design and perform training at Entry Point North what makes us unique among other training providers. Our training philosophy builds upon a Scandinavian heritage, where we put the individual student in focus. We work closely with each and one of them to enable them to reach their full potential. Our philosophy is based on a belief that every student that comes to our academy is trainable, and we design theoretical and practical training and blend different training methods to best support each student in their learning progress. Additionally, we regularly update our training materials and methods to comply with the latest industry requirements and developments. In the end, the goal is to do all we can to provide as many as possible skilled and competent new future colleagues for our customers. Our philosophy and methodology have resulted in a high success rate and recognised reputation of our graduates worldwide.”
AP Insights: How do you combine a global reach and local presence?
Anne Kathrine Jensen: ”We deliver the majority of training in cooperation with air navigation services providers, and the local setup depends on the type of partnership. Entry Point North is a group of companies and its sites consist of six companies, of which two – Entry Point Central and Entry Point North Belgium are joint venture companies with HungaroControl and skeyes respectively. Other companies in Denmark, Ireland, Spain are wholly owned branches or limited companies of Entry Point North.
When expanding to other countries, we found that many partners would like to collaborate in a way that air traffic control education is physically located in their home country. It also makes good sense to us, because we depend on being able to include instructors with local knowledge and experience. It is often people and especially course supervisors and instructors, who are the bottleneck in our industry more than it is access to equipment. Also, by being present at a client location, we include important local culture aspect in our training while at the same time maintaining strict quality standards. Long-term partnerships enable us to work together in developing and delivering high-quality training.”
AP Insights: What are your other USP’s?
Anne Kathrine Jensen: ”Being one of the world’s largest training provider, we offer a high capacity for training air traffic controllers in several countries simultaneously. We are highly flexible as we can scale up and down in different locations when needed while maintaining high-quality training at all times. Currently, Entry Point North has the capability of training 400 air traffic control students at the same time.
With clients in many different countries, we naturally offer a broad portfolio of courses and services. Besides providing a variety of training for aspiring and operational air traffic controllers, we also deliver training for flight information service officers, air traffic safety electronics personnel, administrative personnel and other aviation-related personnel. Our courses include language, safety and human factors training, as well as courses to provide a general understanding of ATC for staff working in administrative functions or related industries. We also assist ANSPs to select and recruit the best possible ATCO candidates by providing various personality, ability tests and interviews.
Air traffic controller education is an intense hands-on training using simulators. At our academies we currently have almost 400 radar/pilot simulator training positions, as well as one 360° 3D, five 270°/360° 3D, and twenty-three 180° 3D state-of-the-art simulators. All simulators are connected into a centrally managed system at our headquarters in Malmö, allowing us to run and edit exercises remotely. To offer customised continuation training for operational ATC staff and optimise the outcome, we also deliver training solutions on replicated local airspace and airports.”
AP Insights: How do you deal with all the different nationalities, languages and cultures?
A.K. Jensen: “Entry Point North is a genuinely international academy with more than 160 employees comprising 30 nationalities and speaking 24 languages. Speaking a native language of our customers and students helps us to understand country specifics and local culture better and offer the best possible support and assistance.
Besides international staff, for shorter assignments, we continuously recruit highly skilled instructors and consultants from all over the world to deliver training at any one of our sites or our customer location. Moreover, students and course participants coming from across the globe make the atmosphere in the academy lively, fun and truly international. Having been trained in an international setting and established new contacts, it is beneficial for our graduates later in their future careers.”
AP Insights: How do you see the future of ATC training?
A.K. Jensen: “The industry developments are putting more pressure on ANSPs to deliver safe and cost-efficient services in the coming years. Traffic is expected to double in twenty years, new regulations lead to new high training standards, and large groups of air traffic controllers are expected to retire. In order to meet those challenges, we see that more ANSPs are looking for ways to either outsource their training or enter into cooperation. In the ATC training business environment, we, therefore, expect to see more commercialisation, competition and partnerships.
Another crucial future aspect is vastly developing technology. At the same time, the requirements for safety are continually rising, so this might keep the implementation pace slower. Nevertheless, with new technologies, there will be more monitoring and less interaction - systems will be able to suggest better solutions to the humans who use them. However, the people behind the technology will still need to be trained among many other subjects on human factors, e.g. cooperation and social skills. At Entry Point North we believe that human factors will be an increasingly important part of training in the future.”