Air traffic controller

Air traffic control specialists, abbreviated as ATC, are responsible for the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of air traffic within the global air traffic control system. Usually stationed in air traffic control centers and ground control towers, they visually and by radar monitor the position, speed, and altitude of aircraft in their designated airspace, and provide radio pilot instructions. The position of air traffic controller is a position that requires highly specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities. Controllers enforce separation rules to keep aircraft at a safe distance from each other within their area of ​​responsibility and to move all aircraft safely and efficiently within the airspace designated and on the ground. Because controllers have enormous responsibilities while on duty and make countless real-time decisions on a daily basis, the ATC profession remains universal. considered one of the most mentally challenging careers and can be notoriously stressful depending on many factors (equipment, configuration, weather, traffic volume, traffic type, special activities, etc.), government actions, and human factors). However, many controllers consider high salaries and a significant degree of autonomy, uniqueness, and privileges to be the main advantages of their work. 

Features of Air Traffic Controller:

Core skills of Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers are generally well-organized people, quick to calculate numbers and math, have strong and steady decision-making skills, and are able to maintain composure in the face of pressure. energetic and has excellent short-term memory. Over many decades of research, it has been shown that air traffic controllers in general have superior visual memories and moreover, studies have shown that air traffic controllers in general have a level of situational awareness that is clearly above the population average. In “games” involving short-term memory, peer stress, and real-time risk analysis, air traffic control experts outperformed the control group in each experiment. citation needed. Excellent listening and speaking skills are required, and students undergo rigorous physical and psychological testing. 


Area controllers are responsible for the safety of aircraft at higher altitudes, during the en route phase around the busiest airports and airspace. Area controllers can also manage lower-altitude aircraft and air traffic around small airports that don’t have their own towers or approach controllers. In most countries, they are known as “regional”, “on-road” controllers, or colloquially in the US as “central” controllers. The area controller is responsible for specific areas of 3D airspace blocks with defined dimensions. Each zone is managed by at least one domain controller, called the “R-side” controller, which manages radio communications. During heavier traffic times, it is also possible to have a second zone controller, called “D-side”, assigned to the same zone to support the R-side zone controller. This can be done with or without radar:

radar allows an area to handle more traffic; however, procedural control is used in many areas where the level of traffic does not warrant radar or where radar cannot be installed, such as over the ocean. 


The tower controller controls aircraft in the vicinity of the airport and uses visual observations from the airport tower. Tower airspace typically has a radius of 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) around an airport, but can vary considerably in size and shape depending on configuration and traffic.

Tower locations are typically divided into a number of different locations, such as providing flight data/clearance, ground control, and local control (referred to by the pilot as a tower); In busier installations, a limited radar approach control tower may be required.

Provide flight data/Clearance:

Offers IFR flight plan permits, squawk codes for VFR aircraft, coordination assistance for GC/LC, and ATIS (weather) cuts. FD/CD is often referred to by the profession as a tower

 Secretary. Floor:

Issue taxi instructions and clear aircraft/vehicle movements across the airport, excluding runway(s) in use; The controller is not responsible for aircraft movement on ramps or other designated no-motion areas.

Locality (tower):

Issue take-off and landing instructions/clearance and allow aircraft/vehicles to move on or across the runway.


Give instructions to aircraft intended to land at the airport. This involves guiding the aircraft safely, orderly, and quickly, and if necessary, stacking the aircraft at different holding heights. 


A military air traffic controller works at the Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

Civil Air Traffic Controller, Memphis International Airport, 1962

Qualification and education

The civil air traffic controller license is standardized by international agreement through ICAO. Many countries have air traffic control schools, academies, or colleges, usually operated by the incumbent air traffic service provider in that country, but sometimes privately. These organizations are structured to provide training to people without any prior air traffic control experience. Upon completion of academic training, graduates will be issued with an air traffic control license, which will include one or more ratings. 

The armed forces of most countries employ air traffic controllers, often in most if not all branches of the force. Although the actual terms vary from country to country, controllers are often joined. In some countries, all air traffic control operations are carried out by the military. 

Patterns Of Work

As a general rule, the controller works “on-site” for 90 to 120 minutes, followed by a 30-minute break. Except at quieter airports, air traffic control is a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year job in which controllers typically work rotating shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays. They are usually fixed 28 days in advance. 

Computerization and the future

Despite years of effort and billions of dollars spent on computer software designed to aid air traffic control, success has largely been limited to improving the tools available to controllers, such as computer-aided radar. It is likely that in the next few decades, future technology will make the controller more like a system manager monitoring the decisions made by the automated system and manually intervening to resolve the issues. situations that are mishandled by the computer, rather than completely automatically.