Not many people get the chance to work in an iconic building that is so striking on the skyline that it has become a part of a city’s identity.
But that is the case for air traffic controllers, engineers and support staff who are based at the NATS operation in Edinburgh.
At 57 metres high and with a striking design, the air traffic control tower at Edinburgh stands out on the skyline miles away from the airport itself. At night, lit up in an array of changing colours, it becomes even more of an icon.
Sandy Legget is NATS’ General Manager at Edinburgh Airport where controllers are handling around 120,000 aircraft movements in a year – that works out at around 400 on a busy day.
And with 10m passengers a year – including hitting the million passengers in a month mark last July – Edinburgh has become one of the UK’s principal airports.
“The weather can be quite a challenge here,” said Sandy. “We have lots of occasions when we operate on low visibility procedures, mainly because of the proximity of the River Forth to the airfield which can create fog.
“And we also have to deal with light aircraft and helicopter flights too.”
With two transatlantic flights per day – to New York and Chicago – and others to Toronto and Istanbul, Edinburgh is no longer considered a summer destination airport.
“We have got festivals all year round here now and of course we have the Commonwealth Games this summer in Glasgow and we will be supporting that too.”
Being a non-Air Traffic Controller does have its advantages.
“It gives me the opportunity to ask the daft question and see every issue from a different perspective and maybe suggest an alternative way of doing things,” he said.
“The owners of Edinburgh Airport have ambitious plans to grow the business here and we need to make sure that we can keep pace with them while always maintaining the safety and integrity of the operation.”
Hear Sandy discuss the challenges and opportunities that managing the air traffic service at Edinburgh Tower brings in our video below:
View our infographic
Last year we created an infographic to explain what a Control Tower does. We based that infographic on Manchester Tower. Here is another version of that infographic, this time describing the operation at the Edinburgh Tower (click the image to view the infographic):
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