Life as an Air Traffic Controller

Life as an Air Traffic Controller

It is said that morning shows a day and it is the most used phrase for an air traffic controller as before joining duty controller looks at sky and try to identify how easy will be the day. The most used word for controller is weather because weather is proportionally related to ATC job. They cannot join activities at the society actively because of odd hour duty. At midnight the whole city will be sleeping and there are only controllers who are on the duty. It is considered among one of the most stressful job in the world. Sometimes for a moment a controller cannot blink his eyes.

One day I have got the opportunity to counsel high school student. Every student is clear pilot fly aircraft but one of gentle student asked me how the aircraft are separated from each other. I was expecting this question from student. Every pilot is responsible for their own flight but controllers are responsible for all aircraft within his airspace. It’s ATC who separate aircraft from each other. It’s ATC who vector the aircraft to destination. It is no one and only the ATC who navigate the aircraft.

 It’s not easy to become ATC. It is highly paid job at developed countries. Every country has own basic criteria for taking ATC’s training. Our neighbor country India has the criteria that student from science and engineering can only apply for training. In our contest, people from every faculties can apply who score at least 50 per at bachelors degree. Once Individual is selected for training he has to score more than 80 per marks for each subject. After successfully completion of training a controller can apply for a job.

 Every ATC should have license for providing services. Every ATC will have renewal and rating examination each year. In Nepalese context this is only one profession who need license for doing job. It is not easy to receive license. After medical examination from authorized Doctor, controller should go for written and simulation examination. Training and licensing are critical for achievement of competency.

There are more than 50 airports at Nepal. There is urgent need of second int’l airport at Nijgadh. The work of government is very slow even fencing for airport is not completed. The only one int’l airport at Nepal is Tribhuvan int’l airport. We have single runway and single taxiway at this airport. At a time we can have only one movement that is either departure or arrival so delay is obvious. The media are blaming ATC for delay but it is not rational and justifiable to blame ATC for delay. We have to understand about aviation for occurrence of delays. We have only 9 int’l bays for int’l carrier. We have 45 to 50 int’l movements. How 9 bays can accommodate those movements? When there will be more than 9 arrivals due to lack of bays for parking there will be delay for aircraft.

Due to heterogeneous traffic, there will be delay. We are operating helicopter and A330 from same airport. Our airspace is very small. Due to high terrain and unfavorable climate, aviation industry is highly suffering. In Nepalese context, we have four air traffic services unit I.e. aerodrome control tower, approach control unit, area control center, flight information center or air traffic services reporting office. Aircraft fly on specified route designed for channeling flow of traffic. Sometime aircraft significantly deviate from route and sometimes loose the way and ATC will vector the aircraft to destination.

Sashiraj Neupane

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