The air traffic control tower is an iconic symbol of any airport, but the inner workings are veiled in secrecy because it’s a side of airport life that so few people ever see. That’s why we’ve created this infographic to explain what’s going on behind the scenes.

We chose Manchester Airport as an example, but the principles are mirrored in airports across the UK. The only exceptions are those in London, which because of the complexity of the airspace have their approach operations based at our Swanwick control centre.

Click on the image below to see our full size infographic:

If you have any questions about airport tower operations, don’t hesitate to ask and we’ll do our best to get the answers for you.


Please respect our commenting policy and guidelines when posting on this website.

Leave a Reply



Daniel Turner

Good evening. I am interested in becoming an ATCO. when I apply can I put down that my preference is to work in the tower (in the VCR) also do roles in the VCR alternate eg 1 day arrivals, the next ground etc

The number of trainees recruited is determined by NATS’ business needs. The biggest requirement is for Area Controllers, so the majority of trainees are on this course. In terms of where you may be allocated after successfully passing the training, this is also determined by business need so you need to be aware that you could be based anywhere in the UK.


Please start typing and we will search our website for you.

Search Results