Air Traffic Controller Job Description
An air traffic controller is a person whose job is to coordinate and maintain the orderly flow of air traffic to prevent collisions between airplanes. Air traffic controllers manage the flow of airplanes into and out of the airspace of airports to ensure that airplanes are kept a safe distance apart.
There are two main types of air traffic controllers: tower controllers and area or en-route controllers. Tower controllers are responsible for the safe landing, departure and taxiing of aircraft at airports. Area or en-route controllers are responsible for the safe and smooth flow of traffic along airways at higher altitudes
An air traffic controller should be well organized, conscientious, safety-conscious, confident and calm, and have the ability to make quick and accurate decisions and give clear instructions. They should be able to cope with several tasks at once and maintain good concentrations for long periods.
What does an Air Traffic Controller do?
Air traffic controllers may do some or all of the following:
- direct the movement of aircraft en route or at an airport using radar, computers or visual references
- ensure that traveling aircraft are kept a safe distance apart
- inform pilots of arriving flights about airport conditions
- control all ground traffic at airports including baggage vehicles and airport workers
- issue landing and takeoff orders to pilots
- keep the pilots informed about changes in weather conditions
- give permission to airport workers to move around the tarmac and runway
- issue emergency alerts
- write reports to document operations
Where does an Air Traffic Controller work?
Air traffic controllers may work shifts including early mornings, evenings, late nights and weekends. They work indoors in flight control centers or airport control towers using radar, computer or visuals to monitor airplanes.
What is Required to Become an Air Traffic Controller?
To become an air traffic controller, you will need complete an air traffic controller training course at an aviation school and pass a licensing exam. You will also be required to pass medical and background checks.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in an aviation school may include:
- Conceptual physics
- Aviation meteorology
- Ground and air navigation methods
- Tower and radar operations and procedures
- Instrument pilot ground school
- Air traffic control procedures
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Air traffic controllers need to have:
- confidence and assertiveness
- good memory
- good eyesight
- good spatial awareness
- good interpersonal skills
- good listening and communication skills
- good judgment and decision making skills
- organizational skills
- analytical and problem solving skills
- math and computer skills
- observational skills
- the ability to concentrate for long periods
- the ability to work calmly under pressure
- the ability to cope with several tasks at once
- the ability to accept and respond well to criticism
- knowledge of computer and electronics systems
- knowledge of aviation laws, safety and emergency procedures
- knowledge of aviation meteorology
- knowledge of ground and air navigation methods
- knowledge of air traffic control procedures
- knowledge of technical flying terms
Should I be an Air Traffic Controller?
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