Air traffic controllers coordinate air flights to make sure that pilots and passengers travel safely.
Air traffic controllers manage air traffic between or within airports. There are three types of controllers:
Tower controllers manage the flow of airplanes that are landing and taking off. They give clearance and traffic information to pilots and other controllers. They direct traffic on runways.
Radar approach/departure controllers
Radar controllers manage the flow of airplanes into and out of an airport’s airspace. They make sure all planes are a minimum distance apart. They also guide the pilots during take off and landing, using radar to monitor flight paths.
En route controllers
En route controllers monitor planes as they fly between airports. Controllers monitor the traffic patterns of several aircraft at once and make certain that planes stay a safe distance apart. They instruct pilots when they need to change their altitude or heading in order to avoid other planes or bad weather. En route controllers work in centers located across the country. They guide planes when planes enter their center’s air space.
Controllers monitor the weather and keep pilots informed of conditions. They use two-way radios to talk to pilots and other controllers.
Controllers maintain activity logs during their shift. These logs include a record of messages from pilots that detail what happens during flights in progress. They also prepare reports required by the FAA.