What does an air traffic controller do?
Airways air traffic controllers are responsible for air traffic management, which involves air traffic control, aircraft flow management, and flight information and alerting services.
We provide the navigation infrastructure and supporting services used by aircraft to navigate their path.
To make it all happen, we operate a sophisticated communications system throughout the country, which includes everything from satellite coverage to cell phones.
Become a trainee
Once you successfully complete the application process you'll be offered the chance to become a trainee.
As a trainee you'll join us on one of our 12 month training courses. Each trainee course normally takes up to 6 trainees at a time.
Training begins in Christchurch or occasionally in Palmerston North. You'll spend six months working on our simulators and in theory classes to bring you up to speed on air traffic control. This stage is intensive – you’ll need to be committed to studying for up to three hours a night as well as spending full days in class.
Once you have successfully completed your initial six months training, you'll be posted to one of our regional towers. Some relocation assistance for travel and accommodation will be provided by Airways.
This is where the real fun begins. At this stage, you’ll move from student to trainee. Learning on-the-job, you’ll be working with real aircraft under the supervision of an experienced air traffic controller.
Initially you'll have your instructor with you all of the time, but as training progresses the instructor will gradually step back, allowing you to make your own decisions and control the traffic as if you were on your own.
Graduating as an ATC at Airways
When you've had sufficient on-the-job experience and have shown you can deal consistently with all traffic situations and complexities you'll be recommended for a final proficiency assessment. On successful completion of this you'll be issued your air traffic control licence and rating.
Then, you'll be offered a job with Airways, subject to:
obtaining an ATC licence
a recommendation from the Training Centre and your instructors that you've demonstrated suitable behaviour to be an employee of Airways
a pre-employment drug test
a Ministry of Justice criminal records check
Read this flyer about the ATC selection and training process.
Career progression opportunities
Most new Airways controllers start their careers at a regional control tower, where they gain experience before seeking positions in towers at our international airports or in the radar centre. A small number of controllers will be employed directly into Area Radar.
With experience, there are also opportunities to pursue a range of related specialist and management roles.
Tower controllers are situated at an aerodrome's control tower. They control traffic visually within the control zone. Control towers also have a radar screen to assist in the provision of visual control. Airways operates 17 control towers around the country.
Area radar controllers control en route traffic by radar in the Upper Control Area of the Domestic Flight Information Region. The radar centre is based in Christchurch.
Approach radar controllers handle arriving and departing aircraft and work closely with both Area Radar controllers and tower controllers. Approach controllers work in the radar centre.