Typical ATCO Activities

Typical ATCO Activities Typical ATCO activities are:
  • Maintaining permanent radio contact with aircraft,
  • Managing and directing aircraft in the airport area, as well as on the routes,
  • Giving instructions and clearances to pilots during various stages of flight,
  • Aircraft separation in accordance with separation rules depending on the equipment the ATCOs have at their disposal, while the usual separation norms are radar separation and procedural separation,
  • Providing information on the status of navigation aids, meteorological information, as well as all other information relevant to the safe flight of aircraft,
  • Perceiving and recognizing emergency situations which may threaten the air traffic safety, and alerting the competent agenciesif needed,
  • Coordinating with neighboring sectors and air traffic control units, as well as transferring the aircraft data.
During the take-off phase, the tower ATCOs issue a take-off clearance after the analysis of the current situation in the air and on the airport, and inform the pilots of the current meteorological conditions (i.e. visibility, wind speed and direction…). When the aircraft reaches a certain altitude, the approach control takes over the plane from the tower ATCO.

Approach controllers work with surveillance equipment (radar controllers) or without them (procedural controllers). During the climb phase, they keep the aircraft under surveillance to ensure that it observes the given route. They are obliged to react in case of any unexpected deviation from the route.   

When the aircraft leaves their area of responsibility, they hand it over to the area controller. Area controllers render air traffic control services to the aircraft during the enroute phase of flight. They use surveillance equipment in order to keep the aircraft separated, i.e. to keep an aircraft outside the minimum distance from another aircraft, also having in mind the flight efficiency. When the aircraft reaches the area in proximity of a destination airport, during the descent phase the area controller hands over the aircraft to the approach controller who takes the aircraft over and guides it towards the airport, ensuring the most efficient landing sequence. 
During the last phase of flight – landing, the aircraft is taken over by the tower ATCO who ensures its safe landing and taxiing in the maneuvering areas.