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Take turns to ask and answer the same questions with your partner. Do you (both) have a lot in common?


4. Listen to the recording and copy Paul’s answers. Do you (all) have a lot in common?

What controller are you? you your partner Paul
1. Have you ever thought / dreamt about being a pilot?      
2. Why did you choose to be an air traffic controller?      
3. Do you think you have made the right choice?      
4. How did you get the job?        
5. How long have you had your present job?        
6. Have you made any sacrifices to do this job?      
7. What would you advise someone who wants to do your job?      
8. What would you do if you did not work in aviation?      




5. Look through the text and choose a suitable heading for each paragraph. a) The Aims of ATC
b) The Air Traffic Controllers’ Job Definition
c) Education and Training
d) World Air Traffic Controller’s Day
e) Necessary characteristics to be an ATC
f) Working Patterns and Conditions
g) Health Requirements to the Job
h) The English Language Proficiency Requirements
i) Working place



Air traffic controllers are people who give instructions by radio to pilots of aircraft departing or landing. They apply separation rules to keep each aircraft apart from others in their area of responsibility and move all the aircraft efficiently through ‘their’ airspace and on to the next.



The objectives of ATC are as follows:

· To prevent collisions between aircraft

· To prevent collisions between aircraft on the maneuvering area of an aerodrome and obstruction on the area.

· To provide and maintain a safe, expeditious and orderly flow of air traffic. Air traffic control services also provide flight information services, alerting services and, depending on the aviation authority of individual States, Search and Rescue services.

To become a successful air traffic controller, one requires a very high degree of a particular type of aptitude. Air traffic controllers are generally individuals with excellent memory and spatial awareness, are quick with numeric computational skills, calm under pressure, and able to follow and apply rules but at the same time to be flexible when necessary.



During training much attention is focused on the ability of air traffic controllers to absorb data quickly from a variety of sources, and to use them to visualize, in time and space, the position of each aircraft under control, and to project this forward into the near future. This skill is termed situational awareness (having the picture or having the flick), and is central to the job.

Almost universally, trainee controllers begin to work in their twenties, and retire in the fifties. Strict physical and psychological tests and excellent vision, hearing, speaking skills are a requirement, and controllers must take precautions to remain healthy and avoid certain medications that are banned for controllers. As controllers have a large responsibility while on duty, the ATC profession is often regarded as one of the most difficult jobs today, and can be often stressful.




Although local languages are sometimes used in ATC communications, the language of aviation worldwide is English. Controllers dealing with foreign crews are supposed to show a certain minimum level (Operational) of competency with the language in accordance with ICAO requirements. Communication is a vital part of the job: controllers are trained to focus precisely on the words pilots and other controllers say, because a single misunderstanding about a flight level or a runway number, for example, can result in tragedy.


Civilian Air Traffic Controllers’ licensing is standardized by international agreement through ICAO. A lot of countries have Air Traffic Control schools, colleges or Academies. They train student controllers from walking in off the street to the standards required to hold an Air Traffic Control licence, which will contain one or more ratings. ICAO defines five such ratings: Area (procedural), Area Radar, Approach (procedural), Approach Radar and Aerodrome.

A learning process is extensive because air traffic controllers require knowledge of the following: meteorology, geography, navigation and navigation aids, maps and charts, operational procedures. They learn very precise definitions, rules and regulations.

    Whenever an air traffic controller starts his \her career, or is posted to a new unit or starts working for a new sector within a particular unit, he or she must undergo a period of training regarding the procedures specific to that particular unit or sector. The most of this training is done in a live position controlling real aircraft and is termed On-the-Job Training (OJT), with a fully qualified and trained mentor or On-the-Job Training Instructor who are ready to take over in a second if it becomes necessary. The length of this phase of training varies from a matter of months to many years, depending on the complexity of the sector. Only when a person has gone through all these training stages, he will be allowed to control on his own. Training is ongoing not only because of knowledge required in ever-changing working locations, but also because of ever-changing equipment and continual updates to rules and regulations.

Air traffic controllers work in a special room for controllers – the operations room. This room should be comfortable and well-equipped. The room has some control suites for controllers and a supervisor’s desk.


There are indicators of primary and secondary radars. What is more, each working place is equipped with ADF. There is a meteorological screen available overhead left or right of the working place. It shows current weather for the airport. All controllers sit at special desks with built-in radar screens to observe traffic and to get all necessary information about aircraft. Controllers also draw diagrams to keep traffic information under control and to predict dangerous situations in case of any electrical failure. In addition, there are touch screens to coordinate work with pilots, the adjacent areas, neighbouring ATC units, militaries and other services. Controllers have two-way communication and use a microphone to contact pilots and to give instructions to them.

Air Traffic Control is a 24 hour, 365-days-a –year job, except at quieter airports. Controllers usually work rotating shifts, including nights, weekends and public holidays. Controllers’ working hours are governed by federal law. Controller may not work more than 10 hours a day or more than 6 days without a day off in case of emergencies. They are normally scheduled to work 40 hours per week. Overtime work is becoming common as the number of controllers is reduced. In most countries controllers do not normally work more than a two-hour stretch on an operating position at one time.

It is common to work on a position for 1-2 hours and then take a 15-30 minute break. Nearly always air traffic controllers work indoors in control centers and at radar terminals. Occasionally they work outside when observing aircraft from the ground. Controllers can retire at the age of 50 with 20 years active service or at any age after 25 years active service.


The 20th of October is the World’s Air Traffic Controllers’ Day. It is a day when many air traffic control officers world-wide celebrate their own day and publicize their profession. This day has been celebrated every year since 1961.


6. Look through paragraph 8 again and say, if the information is true for Russian air traffic controllers. Add your own information. 7. Here’s the list of adjectives describing qualities certain professions need. Underline the adjectives which describe qualities an air traffic controller needs to have. Then make sentences as in the example. e.g. ● An air traffic controller has to be accurate in order to avoid errors in his job. ● An air traffic controller should be careful not to make mistakes in his job.
efficient / hard-working / quick-thinking / imaginative / clear-thinking / courageous / fit / persuasive / polite / fair / helpful / careful / friendly / patient / experienced / determined / intelligent / responsible / accurate /

8. Put a tick R next to each description which best describes an ATC.

Put a cross Q next to each description which does not suit an ATC.

  1. Usually he can make decisions quickly when it is necessary.  
  2. He has a hard time concentrating in a busy room.  
  3. He can easily visualize objects three dimensionally (in 3D).  
  4. Maps are difficult to read for him.  
  5. He can easily focus on what he is doing regardless of how busy the room is.  
  6. He usually forgets what someone has told him verbally.  
  7. He likes to experience movement when he works.  
  8. He remembers things with greater accuracy and for longer periods of time if he hears them.  
  9. He consistently remembers things that he has heard.  
  10. He cannot visualize in 3D the terrain that a map is depicting.  
  11. He remembers things with greater accuracy and for longer periods of time if he can read them.  
  12. He can sit still for hours and accomplish his work.  
  13. He can look at a flat map and visualize what the terrain looks like.  
  14. His short term memory often fails him.  
  15. Map reading is easy and enjoyable.  
  16. He can only picture landforms and buildings like a flat map.  
  17. He is usually hesitant at making decisions.  
  18. He has a good short term memory.  
  19. He would prefer working non-traditional work hours (not 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.)  
  20. He finds it too difficult to focus on more than one task at a time.  
  21. He rarely panics in stressful situations.  
  22. He would not mind a job that required a lot of talking.  
  23. He would prefer working traditional work hours (8 a.m. - 5 p.m.).  
  24. He enjoys conversing with people.  
  25. He would not want a job that requires a lot of writing.  
  26. He prefers working at a leisurely pace.  
  27. He enjoys the job that challenges him.  
  28. He can easily juggle more than one task at a time and still keep track of each one.  
  29. He prefers not to engage in conversation with people.  
  30. He is an easygoing person who is slow to get angry.  
9. Discuss your ideas in a class.
10. Speak on the requirements to a profession of an air traffic controller according to the plan using the information from the text and your own experience. REQUIREMENTS: Health / Why? How often to check up? Education / What kind? How long? English Certificate /Why? How often to prolong? On-the-job training /How long? Why? ATC license /When? How often to prolong? Simulator training /How often? Why? Permission for ATC units / When? Professional testing/When? How often? Refresher courses / Why? How often? How long?
· work as a(n)… · work shifts (because the airport…24 hours) · go to work by….(because the airport….) · it takes me….to get to work · when … arrive at work … first … take a medical test / check-up · have a briefing with…. · during the briefing …. get information about … …. get to know traffic situation…. · take over the control of traffic · working shift lasts …. hours…. but at night ….. · have / conduct a debriefing and during the debriefing....analyse…. · ……. 11. Describe your average (ordinary) working day according to the plan given on your left. You can use the following adverbs of frequency:always / usually / often / rarely / never and linking words:and / but / so / because / also / afterwards / in addition /  
12. Fill in the table below with the words or phrasesdescribing advantages and disadvantages of a profession of an air traffic controller. NB! Some words and phrases can go to different columns. 13. Describe advantages and disadvantages of the job. Justify your opinion. do shift work / work at nights, weekends / learn all the time / take a medical screen / take a lot of professional tests / job satisfaction / bonus aviation tickets / high status / early retirement / insurance / resort treatment paid by company / a lot of free time / long holidays / company benefits / a lot of responsibility / challenging / well-paid / respected / stressful /

advantages disadvantages


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