I’m an Air Traffic Controller and have been working at NATS for 25 years. Currently I split my time between the Operations Room, where I control aircraft, and the Development Department where I work on projects delivering new En-Route systems.
I kind of fell into the job and in fact before applying to NATS, I had no aviation background at all. I’d heard that NATS was a good Company to work for, so I looked into the opportunities there. I applied to train as an Air Traffic Controller and quickly caught the aviation bug!
The thing I like most about my job is that every day is different. It always has been ever since I started. There’s never a ‘normal day, at the office’ – there’s different challenges every day. I like that – it keeps it interesting and keeps you developing as an Air Traffic Controller.
When I first started in the Company, controlling was very much a manual process and Controller driven. As technology has advanced over the years, that has reduced, and we’ve developed systems to support the Controller with their situation awareness and decision making. This all helps to create a safer operation and prepare for handling more aircraft as air traffic numbers grow in the future.
Teamwork is vital in Air Traffic Control. It’s not just the Air Traffic Controller that helps deliver a safe operation – there’s a number of people working together in different roles as one big team. And these people aren’t just based in the Operations Room but those working in different areas such as Engineers, Safety Specialists, Analysts and Researchers all pulling together to ensure we deliver a safe operation.
A good day’s work is leaving the Operations Room knowing that you have delivered the safest service that you can give to all the aircraft that you controlled. Safety has always been and always will be paramount. It is at the forefront of our minds as an Air Traffic Controller and we strive to be safe in everything we do.
When I was asked recently what I was most proud of in my career – I had a simple answer. I’m most proud of becoming a Controller. That sounds simple, but it was no mean feat. Validating was an amazing moment for me. Of course there have been a number of other highlights over the years, but rewind 25 years, and nothing comes close to that. It was definitely my proudest moment.
Would I recommend becoming a Controller? Of course I would. If you’re looking for a career that’s interesting, challenging and rewarding – then I’d recommend it 100%. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been interested in aviation before, as I say I wasn’t. But you may find, once you look into it, like me, you get the bug!
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