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The Air Traffic Controllers Essay

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Updated: Mar 10th, 2022


One mode of transport that has awed me ever since I was a small child is air transport. The technique that can make a plane to literally “float” in the air is something that has always been beyond my understanding. I have always wondered why unlike other modes of transport that there are so few air accidents. This was well before I knew about the role of air traffic controllers. For all of us who have been to an airport and seen how they operate, we know how important these people are. However, I have been looking at the numerous qualifications that air traffic controllers are required to have, and then I am led to ask, “Are these qualifications significant or important in any way?” (McDougall, & Roberts, 2007, p.48)

Main body

In order for this question to sink in clearly, perhaps it would be good to first understand what these qualifications are. The first important trait that these people should possess is organization. Almost all air traffic controllers are required to be well organized in their private and public life. They should also have very good mathematical and operational skills. Such kind of people should not be diabetic, epileptic or have any heart conditions. Having such kind of diseases automatically disqualifies one for such a position. Their employer’s literary order these people’s lives. Right from the food they eat to the drugs they take, everything they do is accounted for. (Flight international, n.d).

I have friends in many circles and one thing that I have noticed to be a common trait with individuals who are exceptionally bright is that majority of them lack proper organization in their life. The only thing that worries me when I look at the position of air traffic controllers is that it might be locking out good brains out of the profession. In most cases, air traffic controllers require a lot of concentration. The air traffic controllers are trained to center on the precise word the pilots and the other controllers give since a small misunderstanding among them can for instance end up into a disaster. They communicate with pilots by use of radiotelephony method that require a lot of attention such as the fact that just one transmission can take place at a time, transmissions sometimes come together or obstruct each other thus they become incomprehensible. This therefore calls for teamwork between the controllers as well as with the pilots, engineers and managers. It also calls for some good organizational skill on the part of the air controller. (Exforsys Inc, n.d)

The air traffic controllers have different functions in various positions in their field of work. There are the area controllers or en route, as they are fondly known. These are responsible for checking that the plane is safe at higher attitudes. The airspace is divided into segments that are three dimension blocks of air and are clearly distinct. An area controller is therefore responsible for each segment and radar can be used or not. The work of radar is to help a segment take care of much more traffic. In cases where the traffic is not much, the area controllers use procedural control to direct the aircraft to safe areas. They also direct planes at standard levels climbing and while arriving at groups of airstrips. (Flight international, n.d).

The other group is referred to as aerodrome or tower controllers and is responsible for aircrafts in the immediate environs around the airfield tower mostly using visual inspection from the airfield tower. The tower is around five nautical distances in radius though it differs largely in terms of volume and shape due to the pattern of the traffic. The tower controllers are divided into several categories including Flight Data or Clearance Delivery, ground control and local control. These categories perform different functions depending on their line of work. (McDougall, & Roberts, 2007, p.48)

Clearance Delivery is the point where they give path authorization to the plane before they start taxiing. This mainly comprises of the details of the path that the plane is required to use after take off. The ground control takes care of the airfield movement vicinity and areas not allowed to the airlines or any other use. They mainly include taxiways, runways that are not active and meeting points where planes arrive after leaving the runway. The local control deals with active runways. They mainly clear the plane for departure or landing thus making sure that the prearranged runway partition is available all the time. In the case where they notice a dangerous situation, a landing plane may be held in the air and be ordered into the runway by the terminal area controllers. (Exforsys Inc, n.d)


Looking at the intricacy of the above processes, I am always left wondering, do we really need to impose all these qualifications upon air traffic controllers? This question is significant in that it addresses a key point in securing security in air transport. It is also problematic because it locks out students who would otherwise have been given a chance to work in this important field of transport but were locked out because they lacked an important trait required to qualify in this job. However, if we hope to keep the sanity in the aviation industry, then it means we continue with the current trend in selecting air traffic controllers.

References List

Exforsys Inc. (n.d). Duties and Responsibilities of Air Traffic Controllers. 2010, Web.

Flight international. (n.d).Air traffic controller. 2009, Web.

McDougall, G, & Roberts, A.S. (2007). ‘Commercializing Air Traffic Control: Have the Reforms Worked’? Canadian Public Administration 51(1). 45-69,

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