For me, Air Traffic Control is one of the most interesting professions in the world. Air traffic controllers are the eyes and ears of pilots. Being the navigators of the sky, they need to be vigilant all the time when they are performing their duties. The basic idea behind Air Traffic Controlling is to achieve the goal of a “safe, orderly, and expeditious flow” of air traffic. The people who perform this highly skilled task are known as Air Traffic Controllers or Flight Controllers (as they are called in the USA).
To differentiate between ATC’s 2 acronyms i.e. Air Traffic control and Air Traffic Controller, I will be using ATCO (Air Traffic Controller Officer) for Air Traffic Controller.
First, let me tell you the pros and cons of being an air traffic controller:
Pros: It allows you to make independent decisions, handsome salary package and other incentives in terms of qualification allowances, happening working environment i.e. no monotonous work, no work to be carried at home, posting in cities only.
Cons: Shift duties which mean performing graveyard shift as well, highly stressful job, you need to make error-free decisions every time and fewer chances of getting holidays on festivals as ATC is a 24×7 job.
ATC profession is great for those with quick “correct” decision-making capability as you need to make countless split-second decisions when you are performing the duty (we call it “on channel/position”). I am highlighting the word “correct” as the lives of thousands of people in your hand when you are on the channel, so your decision has to be correct or error-free. Also, you need to be fluent in English if you are posted at an international airport.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) recruits the ATCOs in India for Civil Aviation Traffic Control & Management. AAI is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the aegis of the Ministry of Civil Aviation; Govt. of India. It was constituted under an Act of Parliament on April 1, 1995, by merging the erstwhile National Airports Division (NAD) and the International Airports division (IAD). AAI is a Mini-Ratna Category-1 public sector undertaking.
The ATCOs are recruited at the Post of Junior Executive (ATC) or simply call it JE (ATC). The selection process starts with the recruitment advertisements in major newspapers like the Times of India and The Hindu. The complete details regarding the recruitment are also published on AAI’s official website www.aai.aero .
Who can apply?
Only Indian Nationals who have one of the following educational qualifications (with minimum of 60% marks) can apply for the post of Junior Executive (ATC).
Regular full-time Bachelor’s Degree (3 years) in Science (B.Sc.) with Physics and Mathematics from a recognized university.
Full-time regular Bachelor’s degree in Engineering/Technology (B.E./B.Tech) in any discipline
There is some age criterion as well like the maximum age for candidates from unreserved categories is 27 years, 30 years for OBC candidates, and 32 years for SC/ST candidates.
The Selection Procedure is comprised of three steps:
- Written Examination.
- Voice Test
- Medical Test
1. Written Examination:
The written test is conducted online. It is divided into two parts viz. Technical Section and Non-Technical Section. There are a total of 120 questions, 60 in each section. The technical section is to test the candidate’s knowledge of Physics and Mathematics. The non-technical section focuses on candidates’ reasoning skills, numerical ability, and general knowledge of day-to-day events. It also has questions on the English language as ATCOs are required to communicate with Pilots from other countries as well.
There is no negative marking and candidates who score more than 60% can expect to be called for a voice test.
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2. Voice Test
A Voice test is conducted to ensure that the candidate is not stammering. It is a normal test where a candidate is required to read a written paper that has sample pilot-controller interaction phrases.
3. Medical Test:
Once the result of the Interview is declared, successful candidates are required to undergo medical fitness test as per ICAO Annex-1.
Edited: Here are some points commonly asked by candidates who qualify for the Written Test/Interview regarding Medical fitness for ATC Post:
- It is a Class III Medical test (instead of asking me, please ask for its details from some Doctor/Hospital). You will be required to go to Civil/Govt. Hospital for this. They will tell you the procedure for the same. It might take 2-3 days for its completion.
- There is no issue with specs provided you have 6/6 vision with help of glasses.
- Candidates with color blindness will not be allowed to join the ATC post.
Once you are done with all these hurdles and formalities, you will be joining AAI’s training institutes. There are a total of three training institutes at Allahabad (Utter Pradesh), Gondia (Maharashtra), and Hyderabad (Telangana) where AAI will impart ab-initio training in Aerodrome Control Tower and Approach Control. The training cost is borne by the Airports Authority of India, in addition, the trainees are paid approx. INR 40,000 as monthly salary. Once training is over you are liable to be posted anywhere in India.
Bond Period :
AAI will require you to furnish a Bond of Rs. 5 Lakhs for a period of 3 years. This is basically done in order to recover the training cost of the candidate, in case the trainee does not want to continue with AAI. The training period is included in this.
So are you ready to rule the Indian skies?? Well, if your answer is affirmative, then start preparing well to be a part of this unique and prestigious profession. I am culminating my article with this nice ATC quote:
“Air Traffic Control is easy until it gets hard. Then it gets very hard. The problem is, it can get very hard very easily.”