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When examining other critical occupation activities, significant time and resources should be invested in preparing operators for confident and safe performance of tasks and successful incident resolution.
Commercial airline pilots are rated to fly only specific categories of aircraft. Simulators allow pilots to “practice” prior to actually flying a plane. An Airline Transport Pilot Certificate allows a pilot to act as the captain or first officer of an airline flight and requires 1,500 hours of total flight time, including 500 hours of cross country flight, 100 hours of night flight, and 75 hours of instrument operations. Every pilot has to undergo a flight review with an instructor every 24 months.
Nuclear submarine operators spend multiple months in a classroom studying the specific model of submarine they will work in. Once on board, they spend 14 to 18 months “qualifying” to operate the ship’s various systems. Individual cross-training with a more experienced operator is a standard practice during this time period.
Nuclear power facilities are more analogous to data centers than airplanes and submarines, because each facility is unique. Operators typically receive 400 hours of classroom training prior to gaining an entry-level position. Additional multi-month training is conducted under supervision at the facility.
When a new nuclear power plant is constructed, operators are customarily hired from another nuclear facility one year prior to completion of the new facility. During this time, they attend classroom training as a group to study a fundamental overview of the new facility’s plans. This is followed by a multi-month practice period at a simulator built to replicate the new facility’s control room. As construction of the new facility nears completion, the operators begin a one to two year start-up period, practicing every conceivable failure scenario under supervision.
Licensed nuclear plant operators require requalification training every 24 months. Each operator must complete the program and pass a written exam and an annual operating test developed and administered by the reactor licensee.
All three of these critical activities have human life at stake when there is an operations failure. The justification for the time invested in training and practice time is clear. Data center management teams that strive to avoid downtime should take note of the crucial practices that the critical operations cited above have in common:
1. Dedicated site- or model-specific training investment, including re-training.
2. Written tests and detailed evaluations.
3. Extensive practice time for individuals with the equipment they will operate.
In Data Centers, Practice Time Can Prevent Downtime
How Is a Data Center Operator Like A Nuclear Submarine Captain?