When people think about the aviation industry they often think about pilots and flight attendants. There is so much more to it and so many more people working in behind the scenes to make sure that the next flight that you take gets you where you want to be on time.

Air traffic control experts work tirelessly to ensure that your flight is where it needs to be at all times. They are an essential part of any flight. Without their careful attention to detail, you simply would not be able to get from a to b on a plane. So, what does an air traffic controller do? You may have a vague idea, here are some of the secrets behind the curtain.

1. A lot of them don’t work in the airport

It used to be the case that all air traffic controllers had to be at the airport where they were responsible for the traffic. Now thanks to modern technology it is possible to have air traffic controllers monitor the status of flights from rada control stations located out side of the airport.

2. You need to be on your game

As air traffic controllers are responsible for the lives of thousands of airline passengers on a daily basis, they need to always be at their best. Excellent vision and a clear head are required at all times. There is a very high bar for excellence in this profession. Especially considering that you will need to be able to speak clearly and often operate calmly under pressure.

3. There is a secret code

Well, maybe not a code, but they do speak their own language of acronyms and slang when they speak to pilots and amongst themselves. Around the world, air traffic controllers need to be fluent in English. This goes for pilots too. This is because English is the internationally accepted language of civil aviation.

4. They rely heavily on aviation software

With a busy airport, having hundreds of airplanes taking off and landing in the space of 24 hours there is simply too much information to keep track of. To manage all of these people, planes, security and safety procedures, they use aviation software. This allows the seamless record keeping to take place. There are also many compliance issues that must be adhered to that aviation software makes a lot easier and much more accurate.

5. Pilots that have strong accents are very frustrating

Although every pilot must speak English, there is the occasional pilot that is unable to speak it without a heavy accent. This can be very frustrating for the air traffic controllers as they need very specific information in a timely fashion. Asking for clarification can be time-consuming and slow everyone down.

6. They are either bored or very, very stressed

Because they’re responsible for thousands of lives 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, most air traffic controllers experience a high level of job-related stress. This can lead to fatigue so there are strict regulations about how long they are able to work at any given time. This is to ensure that they never miss a detail and are always fully focused on the task at hand. They are known for being meticulous and deliberate at all times.

7. They have job security

As it stands, there is no automated system that can take the place of an human operator. Air traffic controllers are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Although aviation software is making their job a lot easier and safer they are not going anywhere.


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Alison is one of the writers working at Ultimate Business News. If you have any media inquiries, please contact Alison for further questions and feedback.

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