Recently I’ve had lots of aspiring IFATC message me on how to better themselves as a controller, and I thought it’d be beneficial to share my thoughts in a public environment for many to see and for those that may be in search of serious advice.
As IFATC, we are expected to read and understand the user guide in full, but I believe that it’s crucial to your success to take the term that is given, and interpret it in a way that makes sense to you. The following points are my interpretation and understanding of what has been provided to me, and hopefully you can make use of it.
Some topics that I’d like to cover are, predicting the pilots that you are handling, situations to expect within your airspace, and key tips on improving awareness. Without further adieu, let’s get right into it!
- Please note, these tips are opinion based. If you have questions about the logic behind the tip, then feel free to quote it and reply in a respectful manner.
Predicting Your Pilots
An essential part to controlling efficiently and well is predicting what people will do. If you have gained enough experience to know what is going to happen in any given situation, you can try and prepare for such instances ahead of time.
For example, if you see a Cessna 208 taking off right after a Boeing 737, it’s best to keep in mind that the Cessna 208 may have intentions of doing a tight pattern, and you can prepare for this ahead of time, just in case it happens. You may ask, how might I prepare for such a situation? My advice to you would be to take into consideration the speeds of each aircraft, and maybe extend the timing of your clearances to early downwind to ensure you are certain of each aircraft’s intentions.
To somewhat add onto the previous point, you should be knowledgeable and aware of the types of situations you may be put into during your sessions, and how to make use of all commands given to you.
I’d like to use any ground and tower session as an example, due to it’s simplicity when taking into account things that you should expect. When controlling ground and tower, you may encounter some of the following ; pattern entries, sequences, ground conflicts, go-arounds, transitions, and runway changes are to be expected, and are your key aspects to every session.
There are obvious times when the previous aspects must be used. Assume that two aircraft are right next to each other and request pushback simultaneously. This is where those ground conflict resolution skills will come in handy, and you can do so by giving one the pushback clearance, and having the other hold their position. To further my previous point about predicting your pilots, if you notice two people are right next to each other on the ground, it should already be in the back of your mind that a pushback/taxi incursion may be imminent.
You should familiarize yourself with each of the bolded terms above if you haven’t already, but I thought it’d be good to mention so, of course, you aren’t caught off guard when it’s time to control.
All links above are found in the ATC portion of the user guide, and that should be referenced before anything else listed in this topic.
Awareness + Monitoring Your Airspace
Awareness. Arguably, one of the biggest parts of air traffic control that will make, or break, a controller. As an IFATC Tester, if we notice awareness may be lacking, it’s essential that we point that out and acknowledge it because it can possibly lead to other issues in the airspace.
It’s one of those things that really needs to be built up over time, and certainly can’t be achieved easily, but I have one big tip, from my experience, that has led to major success. When you are not sending commands to people, monitor your airspace! It never hurts to keep a bird’s eye view on everything that your pilots are doing to make sure nothing is happening out of the ordinary.
Let’s say you noticed that someone randomly slows to 0-20 knots on the runway, but someone on a 2 nautical mile final is still at 160-170 knots. That is a big giveaway that a go-around may be imminent due to a loss of arrival/arrival spacing.
Furthermore, if you notice someone may not be following the expected path, it’s part of the controller’s duty to quickly evaluate what situation is occurring, and act appropriately in a timely matter, which all ties into your awareness.
Many of these aspects that I’ve explained are heavily correlated, and are very much alike and dependent upon one another. I hope that, from this topic, you were able to further your knowledge into the wonderful world that is air traffic control. If you would like to join, please do so here! We love taking on new recruits, and like to expand our ever growing team.
Feel free to add onto and engage in meaningful discussion on this topic, or mention what you have noticed as ATC. Thanks!