What's your job about?
Airservices Australia provides safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible air navigation and aviation rescue firefighting services to the aviation industry.
I am an en route Air Traffic Controller so I control the airspace between airports. I sit at a computer console with a radar feed all the aircraft contained within my area of the sky. I generally control for an hour to an hour and a half at a time and then have a half hour break to recharge my brain. My airspace starts at 25 000 ft and above so I mainly control jet aircraft. It is my job to keep these aircraft at safe distances from other aircraft. I provide up to date weather information and turbulence reports to the aircraft. I also sequence aircraft into Melbourne.
This means I arrange the aircraft into a trail spaced at certain distances so they can land at Melbourne in an orderly and safe manner.
If an aircraft is experiencing an emergency, such as a sick passenger, I arrange priority for their arrival so they get on the ground as quickly as possible.
What's your background?
I grew up in Wallan, Victoria. After finishing high school in Kilmore I moved closer to my university in Bundoora. I moved around quite a lot and worked in retail both part time and full time to support myself through university. I attended a presentation by Airservices Australia in the Physics Department for careers in Air Traffic Control. After graduating in 2012 I worked in retail management and went travelling as often as possible. I started with Airservices in November 2015 as a Trainee Air Traffic Controller and got my license to operate on my own in May 2017.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. Prior to starting the training, I had no aviation experience whatsoever – and that is quite common! It is important to be calm under pressure, have good spatial awareness and to be able to maintain high levels of focus for extended periods of time.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
Driving into work you occasionally see an aircraft full of people taking off from Melbourne and you wonder where they’re off to. I get into work plugin at the console and that aircraft has reached my airspace in northern Victoria. I just saw that aircraft depart and it has travelled hundreds of kilometres already and it is my job to keep it safe in my airspace.
Your advice for candidates...
The training to be an Air Traffic Controller takes place in a simulator over about 18 months. The learning curve is very steep and you learn by making endless mistakes in the simulator environment. My advice would be to try and not be so worried about learning from mistakes – you won’t get it right the first time. By the time you have completed your training, you are well prepared to control real aircraft safely.