An air traffic controller (ATC) is just as important as the pilot itself. Without both present major commercial flights would not be possible. Air traffic controllers monitor all aircrafts current in the air in their designated air space, it relays instructions to pilots on what path and altitude they can fly at safely.
Without air traffic controllers the pilots might as well be flying blind, air traffic controllers monitor all aircrafts by radar and GPS ensuring that they have the needed empty space around them. Pilots can communicate to air traffic controllers via radios, such as the Icom radios found on Century Avionics. The air traffic controller can warn the pilot if they have a conflicting path with another airplane or even assist in finding a new route in case of an emergency.
There are different kinds of communications from air traffic controllers to pilots, advisories are more along the lines of information that the pilot can either follow or disregard. Instructions on the other hand are obligated and pilots must obey the air traffic controller’s expertise and opinion if such communication is relayed. A pilot’s command can in some instances override the air traffic controllers’ instructions in case of extreme emergencies.
How did it all start
Croydon Airport in London was the first airport in the world to use this technology. Air traffic control was developed further in the USA after World War 1 to track the movement of reconnaissance aircraft. The first commercial air traffic control tower was erected in 1930 in Cleveland, USA. After a tragic mid-air collision with 128 fatalities the entire United States commercial aircrafts were monitored by air traffic controllers. Countries like Germany, Britain and France soon followed.
A large tower can be spotted at all airports, still today aircrafts taking off or landing are monitored visually. The air traffic controllers are responsible for ensuring the safety of aircrafts during takeoff and landing, this includes making sure vehicles on the taxiways are out of the way.
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