Air Traffic Controller Kaiwhakahaere Huarahi Rererangi

Air traffic controllers direct the safe and orderly movement of aircraft while they are flying, landing, taking off and taxiing.

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Air traffic controllers may do some or all of the following:

  • receive information about flights from flight plans, pilot reports, radar and observations
  • direct aircraft and manage aircraft traffic flows
  • advise pilots on weather conditions, the status of facilities and airports
  • give pilots permission to take off, land and change altitude and direction
  • give airport workers permission to move around the tarmac and runway
  • monitor aircraft on a radar and look for possible conflicts
  • alert airport fire crew and rescue services in emergencies
  • write reports on incidents.

Physical Requirements

Air traffic controllers need to have good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), normal colour vision and good spatial awareness. They also need to be reasonably healthy, as they have to pass a medical examination every one to three years.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for air traffic controllers includes:

  • work as an aeroplane pilot
  • other aviation and navigation experience
  • any work dealing with people in stressful situations
  • work in industries with a strong health and safety focus, for example, work in emergency services.

Personal Qualities

Air traffic controllers need to be:

  • very organised, with the ability to prioritise, plan and make decisions
  • able to remain calm under pressure
  • adaptable
  • able to retain and interpret large amounts of information at one time
  • excellent at spatial awareness
  • mature, responsible and conscientious
  • skilled in making calculations
  • clear communicators and able to work well with others.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for air traffic controllers includes:

  • work as an aeroplane pilot
  • other aviation and navigation experience
  • any work dealing with people in stressful situations
  • work in industries with a strong health and safety focus, for example, work in emergency services.

Subject Recommendations

NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English and maths.

Air Traffic Controllers can earn around $90K-$160K per year per year.

New air traffic controllers usually work at a regional control tower, dealing with domestic flights only. With two to three years' experience they may progress to work in an international control tower or radar centre. They may then move into management or specialist roles such as:

Air Traffic Control Policy and Standards Specialist
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Air Training Centre Instructor
Air training centre instructors train air traffic controllers.
Air Traffic Controller

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