Airways - Making your world possible

The role of an Air Traffic Controller

Keeping our skies safe is a big responsibility. It takes a certain kind of person with the right skills, aptitude and attitude. In return it offers a career full of challenges, opportunities, rewards and a sense of purpose and achievement.

Here we outline the role of an Air Traffic Services Specialist at Airways - key responsibilities, the different types of air traffic controllers and the services they provide, and the skills and attributes you need to be successful in this role.

Interested in training to be an Air Traffic Controller?  Head over to our Airways International website to learn more about training programme eligibility and selection, and what the training entails.

Find out more about training to be an Air Traffic Controller

What do Air Traffic Controllers do?

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft, and provide pilots with flight information so every flight takes off, flies and lands safely.

They either work in surveillance control centres or in airport control towers and use various equipment, such as radar and radios to communicate advice and instructions to pilots.

Flight Service Operators (FSOs) work in an aerodrome or in our main surveillance centre, and give advice and information for the safe and efficient movement of flights.

What are the different roles?

Each "controller" has different areas of responsibility. In New Zealand, they work from our surveillance centre in Christchurch, our Oceanic Control centre in Auckland, or in one of 17 control towers throughout the country.

Aerodrome/Tower controllers

Enable the safe and efficient operation of aircraft near the aerodrome. They are based at an aerodrome's control tower and control traffic visually within the control zone.

Area Surveillance controllers

Work in enroute upper airspace sectors and are responsible for keeping aircraft separate in the airspace around them.

Approach Surveillance controllers

Manage and sequence traffic approaching and departing an aerodrome. They handle arriving and departing aircraft by working closely with both Area Surveillance controllers and Tower controllers.

Flight Service Operators

Provide key advice and information, such as weather updates and operational info to aircraft operating outside controlled airspace.

Want to learn more?

Are you interested in becoming an air traffic controller?

Visit the Airways International website to learn about the training, and eligibility and selection for their ATC training programme.