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Air Traffic Control

Air traffic control is one among the many career paths you can choose from, to work in an airport. It is a profession that requires highly specialized knowledge, skill and ability. Air traffic controllers alias ATC Officers (ATCO's) are people trained to maintain the safe, orderly and prompt flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. They are essential to the efficiency of airports and the airline industry. Pilots need active support from air traffic controllers to fly safely. Air traffic controllers track, guide and control both the takeoff and landing of airplanes, as well as the air traffic above and in the general vicinity of the airport.

ATC careers are suitable for those who can analyze situations at a moment's notice, make quick calculations and react in a safe and efficient manner. It is a job that should be handled with utmost responsibility, since Air Traffic Controllers have to take care of large number of lives in their hands. If there is even small chance for error and if you make a blunder, the aftermath could be appalling.

The most and the primary duty of an Air Traffic Controller is to coordinate the positions of different aircrafts and to ensure that all are safe both in the skies and on the ground at airports. The controllers give pilots taxiing and takeoff instructions, air traffic clearance and advice based on their own observations and information received from the National Weather Service, air route traffic control en route centers, flight service stations, aircraft pilots and other sources. They apply specified separation standards that allow aircrafts to maintain safe distances from each other in their delegated airspace areas and also on airport surfaces. They must be able to recall quickly, the registration numbers of aircraft under their control, aircraft types and speeds, positions in the air, and also the location of navigational aids in the area.

Even though it is a lucrative career, life as an ATC officer can be taxing and dull. People opting for this career have to work from the control tower in an airport, spend long hours of the day wearing earphones and giving orders to pilots looking to land or take-off from the airport. Since most airports do not close for the night, they have to work for long shifts and do not get too many long vacation breaks.

Job Prospects and Career Opportunities:

Air traffic controllers are a part of an extensive network of technicians and generally work in teams. As soon as they enter the airspace of the airport, each controller is assigned with a fixed number of planes. They manages all aspects of the allotted aircraft's flight. Apart from communicating with the pilot, air traffic controllers typically perform :

  • • Monitor and direct the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air, using radar, computers, or visual references
  • • Control all ground traffic at airports, including baggage vehicles and airport workers
  • • Manage communications by transferring control of departing flights to traffic control centers and accepting control of arriving flights
  • • Provide information to pilots, such as weather updates, runway closures and other critical information
  • • Alert airport response staff, in the event of an aircraft emergency
  • • Maintain and prepare the control tower or control centers for emergencies.

Air Traffic Control sector offers numerous job prospects. Students who have successfully completed their ATC training are directly absorbed by various Central Government departments engaged in Aviation research and technology like ISRO, Defense Ministry, Aeronautical Laboratories, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Airport Authority of India and many other departments. Indian Air Force and Indian Navy recruits ATC's through Service Selection Board (SSB).

Air traffic controllers work in control towers, approach control facilities or en-route centers of airports.

Salary Scale: Pay Scale of air traffic controllers varies considerably depending on one's qualification, experience and the type of aircraft they work for. The initial pay scale of Junior Executive ATC is around Rs. 40,000/- per month. With years of experience, this field may command a gross income of Rs. 1,50,000/- . In addition, an ATC receives different allowances based on the acquired skills. These are known as rating allowances which each air traffic controller receives although the amount of the allowance vary depending on the city with which he or she is assigned.

ELIGIBILITY

Qualities Needed : To succeed as an air traffic controller, a good eye sight and a calm attitude is very much needed. A thorough knowledge of procedures and phraseology, the language of Air Traffic Control is a must. These professionals must be able to work under pressure without making any mistake and be cautious and think before every action they take. The foremost attributes required for Air Traffic Controllers are :

  • - Good communication and listening skills for giving clear and concise instructions
  • - Concentration skills
  • - Quick decision making skills for the safe operation of the aircraft
  • - Excellent Math skill to compute speed, time, and distance problems, and recommend heading and altitude changes
  • - Organisational skills to coordinate the actions of multiple flights
  • - Problem solving skills
  • - Ability to work as a team

AAI Recruitment : Airports Authority of India (AAI) conducts civil ATC entrance examination for the recruitment of candidates in ATC.

The basic educational qualifications needed to apply for the civil ATC entrance examination is:

  • • Engineering Degree in Electronics / Tele Communication / Radio Engg. / Electrical with specialization in Electronics with Ist class (60%) OR
  • • Regular Full time Bachelor’s degree (3 years) in Science (B.Sc) with physics and Mathematics from a recognized university with minimum 60 % marks OR
  • • M.Sc Degree or its equivalent with Wireless Communication, Electronics, Radio Physics or Radio Engg. as a special Subject with 1st Class AgeLimit : Lower age limit is 21 years, while the upper age limit is 27 years.

The selection shall be made on the basis of a :

  • • Written test 50% questions will be based on subjects relating to educational qualifications prescribed and 50% on General Knowledge, General Intelligence, General Aptitude, English etc.
  • • Voice test
  • • Personal Interview
  • • Medical fitness

Training is imparted for the candidates after recruitment, at Civil Aviation Training Colleges at Allahabad, UP or at Hyderabad, AP. During the training period a stipend of a requisite amount will be paid to the trainees along with free lodging and boarding. Training module includes Air Traffic Services; Aerodromes and Ground Aids; Air Legislation; Meteorology; Communication Procedures; Technical; Search and Rescue and Air Navigation. Successfully trained candidates will be appointed as Junior Executive (ATC).

Hierarchy in Air Traffic Controller is as follows :

  • • Junior ExecutiveAssistant Manager
  • • Manager
  • • Senior Manager
  • • Assistant General Manager
  • • Deputy General Manager
  • • Joint General Manager
  • • General Manager
  • • Executive Director (ATM)
  • • Member (ATM) in AAI Board

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