There have been countless discussions and threads in the #ATC category, with plenty revolving around how to improve as a controller and how to operate as IFATC. Since activity has been buzzing lately, I feel that this post would serve as a good reminder of what air traffic control is really about, as well as some of the mentality that goes behind it.
First, let me refute several things you may infer about IFATC controllers’ posts.
- We’re not being mean for the sake of it. We’re trying to get a point across.
- It isn’t a free pass once you join IFATC or anything else.The work doesn’t stop when you step across the threshold.
- Asking for help does not portray you as weak. It is a strength. How else are you supposed to learn if you don’t ask?
Now, to confirm some truths.
- Some people do have a rude awakening. It happens.
- You have to take constructive criticism. You will lose respect and the offers of other people to help you if you don’t.
- You are not “hot stuff” (although Misha may beg to differ). There are people there who are older than you, more experienced than you, and have seen way more than you. Please don’t antagonize them.
What do you imagine air traffic controllers motivate themselves to do?
Ordering pilots around? Is that what you think it’s about? Countless controllers worth their salt aren’t trying to win. We’re not doing this because we want special status in the community, or because we want to subjugate others. It’s not because it’s easy, as it certainly almost never is. We do what we do because it’s right. Because it’s decent. And, above all, it’s kind. It’s just that. Kind. It’s kind and provides a service to the pilots who depend on us to guide them safely. Sure, we may not always be the best, and we’ll have our bad days, but that’s what we are. We’re controllers. It’s the best we can do. Even if we’ve been able to help just one guy out and make his day better, then we’ve done our job.
And, trust me, those who don’t think that way will find themselves out of luck very quickly.
FAA 7110.65: The primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision between aircraft operating in the system and to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide support for National Security and Homeland Defense (ignore that last bit unless you wanna create a paramilitary force).
There’s a purpose to this madness. We may deny pattern work because it interferes with the flow of traffic during busy periods, fitting right in with the sentence above. Same for holds. Same for give ways. Same for clearances. Same for just about every kind of delaying action we do. Yes, we exist to service pilots, but we’ll do what is necessary to keep you all safe.
And that, my readers, is the mindset of our thinking, our mentality, and what we do. That one line. Boom.
- P.S: Happy late National ATC Day!