Mini-games level the playing field for air traffic trainees

A leading provider of air traffic management services in the UK and abroad recruits trainees to its training college. Trainee air traffic controllers (TATCs) come from varied backgrounds and have very different levels of basic knowledge. The provider wanted to level the playing field for new starters, giving them all a solid base to build on.

Trainees were to familiarise with basic principles of aircraft recognition and their characteristics before extensive TATC training began. For best effect, trainees needed to receive this support after recruitment in order to prepare them for starting at the college.

Key considerations:

  • cost effective to design and deliver
  • accessible on tablet and laptops to maximise take-up
  • engaging to encourage trainees to return repeatedly


We devised a suite of four highly visual mini-games for a new generation of learners. Each game explores a different area of recognition: aircraft types, characteristics, liveries and callsigns.

The games’ difficulty levels increase as the learner progresses. Reaction times, accuracy and performance under pressure are all tested. Hints, tips and constructive feedback all reinforce the learning. The visual elements we deployed keep a very real-world connection.

Accessible on tablets, desktops and laptops, the solution creates flexible opportunities for TATCs to learn. Tutors can also track improvements and identify knowledge gaps before training starts at the college.


Feedback has been positive from trainees, validated controllers and instructors. All have praised the playability of the games. The realism of the game scenarios has been noted as helping trainees transition smoothly into the workplace.

Instructors report larger numbers of TATCs passing the exams required to advance to further training. Also, dropout rates have decreased now tutors can give specific feedback related to their game-based performance.

Real cost savings come from reducing face-to-face teaching requirements. The provider is improving its return on investment now more trainees are qualifying as air traffic controllers.

“Aircraft recognition was something I really struggled with when training. The different games, in bite-size chunks make a daunting task much more manageable.”


“As a visual learner I immediately found this program appealing and above all it really tested my knowledge. I definitely feel a program like this would have helped me during my training.”


“These mini games provide content in a format that is accessible and engaging. They incentivise repetition and improvement without it feeling daunting or contributing to overload. This approach reduces cost whilst simultaneously improving the quality of learning for our trainees.”


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