Our ATCOs work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure safe and efficient flights. They handle over 650,000 aircraft movements yearly and this number is projected to hit more than 1 million by 2025.
20 October marks the International Day of the Air Traffic Controller (ATCO). On this day, we celebrate the men and women who work tirelessly, 24/7, to guide thousands of flights safely and efficiently through busy skies.
Today, the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR) – the airspace handled by Singapore’s ATCOs - is one of the busiest in the Asia-Pacific region. Our ATCOs handle over 650,000 air traffic movements yearly and this number is projected to hit more than one million by 2025, taking into account the two new airport terminals coming up at Changi. With this in mind, CAAS has been ramping up ATCO recruitment – targeting to expand the pool from nearly 400 now to about 600 by 2020 onwards - to cope with the increasing traffic.
While the job has been recognised as one of the most challenging, it can also be very rewarding. ATCOs all over the world have testified to the immense pride they take in the job, and to bring people safely to their destinations in the fastest way possible. Also, the dynamic nature of the job means there are new things to be learnt every day. Being able to remain calm and collected even in times of emergencies are some of the useful traits that they take away from the job.
However, before earning their stripes, ATCO trainees undergo rigorous courses and on-the-job training to obtain the highly specialized knowledge and skills required for the job. After graduating to the actual control stations, ATCOs have to maintain full concentration at all times during work, so as to coordinate the movement of high volumes of air traffic. With the safety of hundreds of passengers at stake, they must be always on their toes, ever ready to tackle sometimes complex or sudden situations (such as ever-changing weather). This requires coordination with different aviation partners, from pilots to airport emergency staff and other air traffic control units, to make immediate arrangements and quick decisions on the spot, under immense time pressures.
For all their hard work behind the scenes, though, ATCOs seldom get the attention they deserve. On this day, join us as we say a big “Thank You” to all our ATCOs, for the safe and smooth flights that we enjoy!