Ben Lovegrove

Author Archives: Ben Lovegrove

July 11, 2018

Air Traffic Control Jobs – How to Start a Career in ATC

Air Traffic Control Jobs - How to Start a Career in ATCAir traffic control jobs are available for anyone seeking a first or second career in aviation.  The demand has been created by both the natural churn of controllers and the growing aviation industry.

Air traffic controllers are responsible for the safe and expeditious movement of aircraft in and around airports and other-high traffic areas. They coordinate take-offs and landings and make sure all the aircraft stay a safe distance apart.

Controllers communicate with pilots during flights to direct them during take-off and landing and to tell them about their route, weather conditions, runway closures, and other important information.

The main purpose of air traffic control is to help the aircraft safely get to its destination. The job is also important for minimizing delays at the airport. Air traffic controllers help aircraft arrive and leave as smoothly and quickly as possible while staying safe.

What It’s Like to Be an Air Traffic Controller

What it's like to be an air traffic controllerAir traffic controllers usually work in control facilities or towers. Because most are responsible for aircraft take-offs and landings, it’s common to work near large airports. The lighting and air conditioning in control centers is optimized for comfort and concentration.

Air traffic control jobs are essential, but they can be stressful. Controllers usually work eight-hour shifts, but they have to focus carefully the entire time. Aircraft fly at all hours of the day and night, so air traffic controllers may have to switch between day and night shifts or work on weekends and holidays. The FAA limits shifts to 10 hours and requires that controllers have at least nine hours of rest between shifts.

How to Become an Air Traffic Controller

One way to become an air traffic controller is to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an approved Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program. There are 36 schools in the United States that offer AT-CTI programs.

You can also become a controller if you have at least three years of work experience, a bachelor’s degree in another field, or a combination of the two. According to the FAA, one year of college or 30 semester hours is equal to nine months of work experience.

To begin a career in air traffic control in the United States, you must be younger than 31 years of age. You also must complete training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, pass a pre-employment test, and undergo a medical exam.

Career Prospects for Air Traffic Controllers

As of 2017, there were just under 23,000 air traffic controllers working in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of air traffic control jobs will grow by 3 percent by 2026. The field is highly competitive with many candidates applying for each opening, but jobs do open up fairly regularly as air traffic controllers are eligible to retire earlier than most people.

Air Traffic Control Jobs – Salaries

In 2017, the median salary for air traffic controllers was $124,540. The highest 10 percent of workers earned over $175,800, and the lowest 10 percent of workers earned less than $67,440.

Your salary depends on your years of experience, the location of your facility, and the complexity of your flight paths. As you complete extra levels of on-the-job training, your salary may increase.

October 31, 2016

The Evolution of the Realism of Flight Simulator Software

Realism of flight simulator software

A new product for flight sim fans

Flight sims have been around for almost as long as the personal computer.  Flight simulator software has always been a best seller over the past few decades.

It was the idea that there might be a realistic alternative to actual flying that first attracted me to PCs. I was learning to fly in the 1980s but I didn’t have enough money to fly as often as I’d like.

To have a very realistic flight simulator on a powerful home PC seemed a great idea.  However, it was to be a long time before the software and the processing power evolved into something satisfactory let alone a package that was truly impressive.

The evolution from the first attempts to the visual, auditory, and process realism of today’s flight sims are demonstrated in this video  (it’s over 30 minutes long so you might want to scroll through it for glimpses).

Perhaps you can remember those early versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  At first they seemed poor subsitutes for a real cockpit and instrument panel.  As the years passed they began to take on a depth of realism that has evolved into something very close to the real thing.

The Realism of Flight Simulator Software

Today, realism is everything.  Real pilots who want practice on light aircraft and aviation enthusiasts who want to fly airliners demand accuracy.  They want total immersion in the experience.

Combat flight sims have always been popular but as the realism has improved the demand for civil aviation simulators has increased as well.

Today you can fly an airliner from startup to shutdown and select every button for every task, just as the air crew would do in real flight.  Perhaps some of those flight sim enthusiast daydream of being asked to assist with any emergency that results in the air crew being incapacitated!

The Virtual Cockpit

Realistic Flight SimThe idea of a passenger being able to land an airliner in an emergency has often been the subject of debate among pilots and aviation writers.  As the realism in affordable flight simulators improves it can only add more fuel to the fire.

Today’s flight sims contain fully functioning instrument panels to the front, overhead, and to either side.  You can turn and select buttons and turn dials.  The instruments give clear and accurate information based on your flight parameters.

For some years now it’s been possible to select the time of day, weather, and random flight emergencies as well as dozens of aircraft types.  Given the amount of locations and terrain available it is not possible to live long enough to try every combination available.

What’s Next?

It seems likely that the next generation of flight sim developers will exploit the potential of virtual reality.  Surely there can be no greater fully immersive experience.

As well as, and perhaps in conjunction with VR, there is likely to be more advances in the feeback from the control columns and pilot seats.

So, whether you’re a pilot who is unable to fly due to bad weather or an enthusiasts looking for the next best thing, there is plenty of scope for exercises and enjoyment in the world of flight simulator software.