Becoming an air traffic controller (ATC) is not without difficulties. There are many skills and abilities required which you will learn while undergoing an air traffic controller training. Also, there are also many activities, tasks and duties that must be carried out daily on his or her post at the control tower or control center.
An air traffic controller has general duties and they also have specific responsibilities, depending on their role. Nevertheless, their responsibilities differ depending on the controller’s role, and this is how the typical workday of an approach controller, aerodrome controller, en route controller and radar controller goes.
1) Approach controllers
Approach controllers take over when the aircraft approaches the airport. They are responsible for giving initial clearance to the pilot while approaching the airport. They are also responsible in putting all approaching aircrafts into their proper sequences by creating the most effective landing order.
2) Aerodrome (or tower) controllers
Aerodrome controllers direct an aircraft while on the runway from the tower. They are the ones who are providing clearance for landing and taking off while also helping pilot in navigating the runway when maneuvering at the airport. Their ultimate goal is to guide any pilot in making a safe landing on the parking stand. They must also ensure that the people leaving the parking stand reach the runway smoothly and safely. Depending on the size of the airport and how busy it may become, the responsibilities of the tower controllers are divided into air controllers and ground controllers.
3) En route controllers
En route controllers work on geographically dispersed control centers which are basically responsible in monitoring the airspace on their direct jurisdiction. For example, if there are two aircrafts entering the airspace at same altitudes, the en route controllers will instruct either one of these aircrafts to alter its altitude. Secure control centers are located on geographic regions. When an aircraft leaves the airspace, it will enter another one. This is the reason why synergy between two control centers is required. The handing off process will continue between these control centers until a particular aircraft is approximately 50 miles from the airport. This is where the role of a radar approach controller comes in.
4) Radar controllers
Radar controllers monitor plane flows when entering and leaving the airspace. Their main responsibility is ensuring that all aircrafts are spaced out properly and safely. When it comes to landing and taking off, radar controllers establish a proper sequence that aircrafts are allowed to do any of these. Radar controllers work hand in hand with the aerodrome controllers. In some instances, an aerodrome controller is enough.
Evidently, there are many types of ATCs, each of which differs in their duties and responsibilities in addition to the general duties that they perform. Nonetheless, regardless of their air traffic controller training, their main duty is keeping safety in the airport and in the air. If you want to specialize in any of these types, you need to attend an air traffic control school that offers such including approved collegiate training initiative providers.