Air traffic controller

Air traffic controller

Around 2,000 air traffic controllers in Germany coordinate up to 10,000 flights every day. That's about three million a year! They are the directors of the skies and make sure everything is safe and orderly. That's why they are particularly important for air traffic and have a big responsibility.

Air traffic controllers have to do important jobs to manage flights

Frankfurt alone has over 1,000 planes landing and taking off every day. There is always lots going on all over the airfield and at the plane parking spaces. To avoid chaos, air traffic controllers coordinate the traffic via computer and radio and so prevent any potential crashes. They are constantly in touch with the pilots and make sure that one plane has left the runway before the next one takes off.

There are two kinds of air traffic controllers

Tower controllers work in the control towers at one of the international airports in Germany, e.g. Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin. From there, they can see the entire airport and are responsible for all planes and cars on the taxiway, runway and landing strip.
Radar controllers work in the control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe, Munich and Maastricht. They monitor the skies via radar, control all air traffic in the skies and make sure that there are no crashes. They also check that planes protect the environment – lower fuel consumption and less noise pollution.

What you need to become an air traffic controller

All air traffic controllers speak English so that pilots from all over the world understand them. Therefore you need to have studied English all the way through high school and have a good command of the language. You also need to have good technical skills and spatial awareness because the images on the radar have to be transferred into the 3D airspace. It is particularly important that air traffic controllers can keep calm in every situation, even if things get a little hectic. Of course, all air traffic controllers have to be team players, but need to be able to make their own quick decisions too.

Air traffic controllers have to take classes in navigation and air traffic law, aircraft studies and aerospace English or radio communications and aeronautical meteorology.