I could go on and on about my experiences in the college and what I found challenging but we are getting further and further away from what the blog is really about and that is day to day events as they happen in the real world. So I am gonna briefly run over the topics covered during the Air Traffic Control course I studied and then briefly explain how I got to where I am today. For more in depth information on the course you can request it through the comments section of this blog and I will be more than happy to assist.
So my course covered many theory topics. Theory is boring but it is a necessity in life. I wont put you through the drama of reading all about it so don't worry. Our theory topics were anything from basic fundamentals like different types of airspace and restrictions associated with that airspace. We did a lot of flight theory, how does an aircraft fly and what effects its flight. Aerodrome specific topics, runway lighting, taxiway lighting, distance of runway markings from the landing threshold. The list goes on and on. To cut a long story short we learnt quite a lot about the other guys job (the pilot) and everything you could need to know about Air Traffic Control.
The practical part of our course consisted of four topics.
- Basic TMA - Approach Radar
- Radar Tower
- GAAP Tower
- Procedural Tower
Radar Towers are those towers found mostly in capital cities or other areas of importance like major tourist destinations. For example Cairns.
GAAP stands for General Aviation Aerodrome Procedures. Places like Bankstown in Sydney, Archerfield In Brisbane, Jandekot in Perth are all GAAP aerodromes. High density traffic, mostly light aircraft.
Procedural Tower. Any control zone that does not have the luxury of radar coverage. The controller must separate aircraft based on a procedural standard. A procedural standard is one based on information from sources other than radar. Time standards, longitudinal, lateral standards derived by pilots reporting their position and the controller applying the separation standard based on these reports.
I personally found the procedural control to be the most challenging. I mostly enjoyed the TMA side of things, probably due to my background in radar.
So in May 2005 I graduated from the college. This proves you don't need a background in aviation to pass the Air Traffic Control course (but it sure would have helped!).
I was first posted to a GAAP aerodrome.
My first rating was Surface Movement Control (SMC) and Co-ord. Pilots know what a ground controller is but what most of them dont realise is that you are also a co-ordinator. Co-ordinating clearances with other controllers.
I then began training on Aerodrome Control (ADC) and passed this also.
After 6 months consolidation I was transferred to my current location. A Procedural Control Zone. Here we have three positions. SMC/COORD, ADC1 and ADC2.
So far I have acheived my SMC/COORD rating and my ADC2 rating. Our airspace is divided into two sections. ADC1 controls most of the control zone. ADC2 controls a small piece of airspace underneath ADC1's airspace up to 3000ft AMSL. In this airspace we operate VFR Class D Procedures.
So that brings us up to date and I'm about to go to work for the day.
What to look forward to in these posts from now?
Day to day events. Things I could have done better as a controller, things a pilot could have done better and just my thoughts on different things.
I also start some training on ADC1 next week so look forward to hearing about that.