(Above: Australian FIR)
It's been well over a week since my last post on how to be an Air Traffic Controller. This has been due to the fact that I was in the process of doing a week of training on ADC1 - Procedural Approach.
My official training won't commence until January next year as I am number two in line for training at that position. As an Air Traffic Controller you may often receive additional training prior to commencing your official training date.
The reason for this is because your training is set to a specified time limit (in this case 16 weeks) and it isn't ideal to spend the first 4-6 weeks of that 16 weeks learning things like phraseology's. For those that don't know what that is, phraseology is basically set phrases Air Traffic Controllers use to pass instructions. Pilots then also have their own set of standard phraseology's that they would reply with.
When I meet someone and they ask what I do for a living, usually the first response is something along the lines of "Oh, yeah. So you're the guy that waves the bats around on the ground". I then correct them which is followed by "Oh...that must be stressful". I have had this exact conversation countless times, so has every Air Traffic Controller I have met.
For the Air Traffic Controllers of tomorrow I'd like you to know that 95% of the time the job isn't all that stressful. We spend all our working days doing the job and seeing certain scenarios come up, that it eventually becomes like second nature. At times it can get really busy and the pressure can build up, but it is something you become accustomed to.
Something that I never get used to is Training. And it doesn't matter how you package it up and make it all nice, training in my opinion is bloody stressful. And for a number of reasons.
- It's new - Like I said in above, "it eventually becomes like second nature". When you are training for a new position you are seeing and doing things that you have never done before. New scenarios, new solutions. Add complex phraseology's to this mix and you have a cocktail for information overload. You thought you experienced an information overload in your studies? Ha, you haven't experienced anything until you have that much going on in your head that you can't even speak properly.
- Time Restrictions - Every training officer will tell you not to stress about this point. They'll say "We've all been where you are" and it's supposed to make you feel better. I guess it does in a way, knowing that the guy who knows everything about the job, once upon a time struggled like you are right now and then eventually overcame that. The reality for me is that I know that I have until a certain date to get this right and If I don't I may be speaking to my manager and telling him why I deserve to keep my job!
- Long Hours - After what feels like a long day at work, you go home to do study in your own time and learn what you didn't know today for tomorrow.
- It's not your licence! When you are training, your training officer is ultimately responsible for what happens in your airspace. If you do something wrong, you have your training officer their to pick up the pieces for you!
- It won't go on forever - Your training period only lasts for a few months, if not less. Within a matter of a couple of months you will be back within your comfort zone and it will all be over!