Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System

Navy SBIR 21.1 - Topic N211-010
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command - Ms. Donna Attick -
Opens: January 14, 2021 - Closes: February 18, 2021 (12:00pm EDT)

N211-010 TITLE: Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments; Human Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative and cost-effective Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System that can provide ready relevant training and encourage student participation through gamification of learning arcade style activities, with integrated student and class metrics that can increase training efficiency can address that need. This capability will provide a level of training fidelity that the community has not experienced while reducing training time and cost.

DESCRIPTION: Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. Those resources include networks, servers, storage, applications, and services. These resources can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. Available on-demand, cloud environments are scalable and allow agencies to provision resources as required.

This SBIR topic seeks to investigate a Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System that leverages ready relevant learning and game theory. The system should allow remote access to a wide range of exercises and resources for students, instructors, and management. Consistent with the Cloud First policy, agencies will use cloud infrastructure when planning new mission and support applications. Additionally, agencies will consolidate existing applications to help reduce training time. In addition, one of the focus areas is improving training quality.

Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) is about driving fundamental changes into our approach to Sailor training. The goal of RRL is to provide the right training at the right time in the right way. To accomplish this, the Navy will modernize training to maximize impact and relevance, and accelerate processes for delivering new training to the Fleet. In order to improve Sailor performance and enhance mission readiness, the Navyís industrial-era, conveyer-belt training model will transform into a modern version. The modern version will contain content that meets Fleet-validated learning needs [Ref 7].

Gamification [Ref 5] is the process of defining the elements that make games fun and motivate players to continue playing while using those same elements in a non-game scenario to influence behavior [Ref 4]. For an educational scenario, some examples of gamification of desired student behavior include attending class, focusing on meaningful learning tasks, and taking initiative [Ref 6].

Some elements of games that may be used to motivate learners and facilitate learning include, but are not limited to:

(a) progress mechanics (points/badges/leaderboards);

(b) narrative and characters;

(c) player control;

(d) immediate feedback;

(e) opportunities for collaborative problem solving;

(f) scaffolded learning with increasing challenges;

(g) opportunities for mastery, and leveling up; and

(h) social connection.

The Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System should consist of networked Tower and Radar Trainer, and a Part-task computer-based trainer that has access to training modules on the cloud. More specifically, this effort seeks to investigate a Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System allowing remote access to a wide range of exercises and resources for students, instructors, and management. The system should have the ability to remotely observe the simulator from anywhere in the world via the internet providing users the ability to simulate, simultaneously, operations of multiple Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities such as multiple ATC approach control radars and multiple ATC towers operating in one given airspace. This ability should allow tower and radar controllers to simultaneously train using the same aircraft, handoffs, etc. to allow for a more realistic training scenario. Interactive development tools that allow for quick and easy creation of accurate scenarios can be immediately deployed to the cloud and used in full simulators and part-task trainers in all locations. Ready Relevant training via flexible part-task trainers that can be adapted to any curriculum aspect to provide targeted in-class training and off-class self-training reinforcement in all stages of student development for immediate implementation via the cloud trainer shall encourage student participation through gamification of learning arcade style activities with competitive scoreboards. If accessible via Department of the Navy (DON) networks, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), the Outside Continental United States (OCONUS) Navy Enterprise Network (ONE-Net), and the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN), comprehensive class, student, and exercise management tools, exercises and databases can be shared with all sites. The system should be able to quickly and easily identify problem topics for individuals and the whole class to effectively target instruction and deploy ATC training software across the enterprise.

PHASE I: Identify and demonstrate feasibility of a Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System that leverages RRL and game theory; and simulates, simultaneously, operations of multiple Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities such as multiple ATC approach control radars and multiple ATC towers, operating in one given airspace. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a functional Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System prototype with the ability to communicate via DON networks, the NMCI, the ONE-Net and the MCEN. The prototype of the software technology that considers and adheres to Risk Management Framework guidelines to support cyber-security compliance in a lab or live environment. Install, integrate, test, train, validate, and deliver the Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System prototype.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Obtain management framework certification for an authority to operate within operational/training systems. Finalize, refine, and integrate the Cloud Based Air Traffic Control Training System and instructional tools within the training system environment. Transition the technology to a Naval Air Station via a Program Office. Examples of commercial industries that could benefit from this cloud based training include commercial airlines and corporate training. This SBIR topic provides benefits to the private sector by opening up a Navy use case for cloud based training. Although cloud based training has been used outside of the DoD, leveraging cloud based training for the DoD will add additional challenges because of network limitations and cyber security requirements. This solution can be used in the defense industry as the foundation for all future cloud based trainers.


  1. Kent, S. "From cloud first to cloud smart." Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, 2019.
  2. "Cloud smart strategy." United States Department of the Interior. (n.d.)
  3. Bielby, K. "Cloud first gets smart upgrade to remove cyber policy barriers, says OMB." Homeland Security Today.US, September 24, 2018.
  4. Deterding, S.; Dixon, D.; Khaled, R. and Nacke, L. "From game design elements to gamefulness: defining 'gamification' [Paper presentation]." The 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference, Tampere, Finland, September 28-30, 2011.
  5. Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). dictionary. Retrieved May 21, 2020, from
  6. Borys, M. and Laskowski, M. "Implementing game elements into didactic process: A case study (Conference session)." 2013 Management, Knowledge and Learning International Conference (MakeLearn), Zadar, Croatia, June 19-21, 2013.
  7. Davidson, P.S. "Vision and guidance for ready relevant learning: Improving sailor performance and enhancing mission readiness." United States Fleet Forces Command, August 2017.

KEYWORDS: Air Traffic Control; Cyber; Cloud-based Training; Training System; Ready Relevant Learning; RRL; Game Theory; gamification; air traffic control; ATC


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 8, 2020, which opens to receive proposals on January 14, 2021, and closes February 18, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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