What does it mean to work as an air traffic controller?

What is the duty of ATC?

A job of responsibility for the safe and organized movement of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. The workplace of ATC’s is usually stationed in air traffic control centers and control towers on the ground. ATC observes the position, speed, directions of aircraft and gives directions to pilots via radar.

Credit: skiesmag.com

The basic role is to organize and control air traffic from the airport to a radius of 3 to 30 miles out, direct the pilot in taxiing and taking off the plane, give advice according to their personal knowledge and experience. Also, provide information on the separation between departing and landing planes, transfer the control of aircraft in one controller to the enroute one after the other departing their airspace and receive the control of the coming aircraft to their airspace.

Credit: faa.gov

Required skills

The position of an air traffic controller requires special knowledge, skills, and abilities. ATC applies rules to keep planes at safe distances from each other in their responsible area, keep the plane safe in the airspace and on the ground. This job is known around the world as mental challenge job and very stressful, it depends on arranges, equipment, weather, traffic type, traffic volume, special activities, humane factors, governmental actions.

Air traffic controllers are individuals who have a distinct ability to deal with numeric issues, mathematics and make quick firm decisions. There are healthful conditions such as strong visual memory and short-term memory and also without the mental disorder (e.g., clinical depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, a history of drug abuse). According to studies, air traffic controllers have situational awareness.

Credit: forbes.com

Training and work patterns

Controllers get years of training to qualify for this job, but only 1% of applicants are accepted. They spend 12 months studying both theoretical and practical sides of air traffic control in a specialised college. This includes air navigation law, weather, and air traffic control. When they complete the training successfully, they are sent to the air traffic control unit. There are three types of controller – approaches for the radar vectoring of aircraft, landing and departing at airports and area control aerodrome for those that work in a control tower.

One of the hard things in this job is that the controller has to be awake all the time, even at night. Usually, air traffic controllers work not more than one and a half hours to two hours at a time before getting 30 minutes break. Controllers work morning, afternoon, and night shifts. Six workdays followed by four days off, which also means missing birthdays, family occasions, and Christmas. The work at ATC is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


  • https://www.natca.org/
  • https://www.forbes.com/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/
  • https://nats.aero/ (Cover image)

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