The Federal Aviation Administration has started to train McCarran air traffic controllers on a new control tower simulator.
The program helps prepare controllers for several different scenarios, including guiding planes in at night and in dangerous weather conditions, such as dust and snow.
"We can create the scenario, we can create the complexity and the volume here in the simulator and then equate that over to live traffic," said Jim Burgan, an FAA control tower manager.
Before the simulator, controllers were trained on the job.
To make thing more realistic, the "planes" trainees are guiding in are controlled by real people at separate stations.
The FAA says the program cost $900,000.
There's currently 22 simulators across the state, with four more coming this year, according to the FAA.
But the FAA admits the simulator can only get controllers so far; the rest has to come from real-world experience.
"When you're driving a car, and then when you transition to an actual automobile, you feel the difference there," Burgan said.
Still, in light of recent scandals involving controllers asleep in Reno, Washington, D.C. and Tennessee and a child landing a plane at JFK in New York, the FAA says it hopes this training will enforce protocol.
Moving forward, the FAA may start to use the simulator to train staff to work at odd hours and for hijacking scenarios.
"Maybe another use for this simulator, we haven't finalized that but again we're certainly looking at some options that address that issue," said Burgan.
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