FAA buys kiwi screening technology

Article – BusinessDesk

Aug. 31 (BusinessDesk) – State-owned air traffic controller Airways New Zealand has inked a “very significant” deal with the US Federal Aviation Administration, which will use New Zealand-developed technology to pre-screen potential recruits …Wednesday 31 August 2016 02:52 PM

FAA buys kiwi screening technology to train US air traffic controllers

By Pattrick Smellie

Aug. 31 (BusinessDesk) – State-owned air traffic controller Airways New Zealand has inked a “very significant” deal with the US Federal Aviation Administration, which will use New Zealand-developed technology to pre-screen potential recruits for the demanding roles required of air traffic managers.

The five-year contract will earn taxpayer-owned Airways NZ around $1 million a year and is the first of what chief executive Ed Sims hopes will be many sales of the technology to aviation services around the world.

The FAA will Airways’ SureSense system in a major recruitment drive spurred by the strong global growth in air travel created by growing Asian middle classes, lower transport fuel costs and the spread of budget carriers.

Because of the rare combination of personality traits and aptitudes required to be an air traffic controller, only around 3 percent of the general population will ever make the cut.

SureSelect has “the potential to save the air traffic control industry millions in training costs by finding the right people from the outset”, said Sims. “Around US$480 million is spent globally on ATC training every year and about 30% of this, or US$143 million, is spent on candidates who fail to qualify.

Sims said the deal is a major step in the SOE’s efforts to build a new commercial services arm to its primary business, which is to ensure the safe management of air traffic to and from New Zealand and in the country’s skies.

“This deal with the FAA cements Airways’ reputation as a global leader in the air traffic control industry,” he said today.

The two agencies have worked together extensively on other projects “but this is the first time they’ve reached out and said ‘we need some help’. It’s great that they reached to another ATC rather than a traditional software provider.”

“An organisation like the FAA is working in the world’s most congested air space and they are confident they can hire great people”, making the SureSelect deal a vote of confidence in the New Zealand-developed product.

Because of the special characteristics of New Zealand’s airspace, including varied terrain and ocean surroundings, New Zealand ATCs went through “more demanding initial pre-screening than many other parts of the world,” said Sims. The Airways system builds selection patterns based on some 18 psychometric and spatial reasoning tests.

Sims said Airways is in talks with aviation authorities in other countries about licencing use of SureSense, and he hoped the FAA deal would be “the first in a long pipeline”.

Airways is targeting a doubling of its commercial services sales, as distinct from its airspace regulatory activities, over the next five years or so to around 25-to-30 percent of total annual revenues, he said.

The SOE announced a 54 percent jump in annual profitability for the year to June 30 yesterday, at $23.2 million, which it achieved on total turnover that rose 10 percent over the year to $205.1 million.

(BusinessDesk)

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