The Job of an Air Traffic Control Officer


The job of an air traffic control officer is to provide safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic in the area of their responsibility.

By applying prescribed aircraft separation standards and by continuous monitoring of the traffic situation in accordance with the information presented on the radar display or information received from aircraft pilots, air traffic control officers ensure safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic in the area of their jurisdiction.

One of the future ATCOs training objectives is the ability of prompt identification of potential conflicts within and outside of the area of their jurisdiction, prioritizing their tasks and appropriate decision making.

While a lot of attention is dedicated to team work, each individual candidate is being trained both for the role of a team leader and the role of a team player.

Due to the fact that air traffic control officers perform a large number of tasks while on duty, the job of an air traffic controller is considered to be one of the most demanding jobs requiring special knowledge, abilities and skills. Typical air traffic control officer`s activities include:

  • Maintaining two-way radio contact with the aircraft in flight and/or on the aerodrome maneuvering areas,
  • Aircraft identification based on pilots` reports or information obtained through surveillance systems (RDR, MLAT, WAM, ADS-B, etc.),
  • Controlling and directing aircraft on the aerodrome maneuvering areas, within the aerodrome traffic zone and along ATS routes,
  • Issuing instructions to aircraft in different phases of flight and monitoring their execution,
  • Separating aircraft on the aerodrome maneuvering areas,
  • Separating aircraft by applying radar or non-radar separation standards,
  • Providing information on the navigation equipment operability, providing meteorological information, as well as other relevant information essential for the safe flow of air traffic,
  • Identifying, recognizing and acting in emergency/unusual situations which may cоmpromise the safety of air traffic,
  • Coordinating with adjacent sectors and air traffic control units, as well as transferring traffic information.



The job of an air traffic control officer is such that it requires certain predispositions, skills and abilities in order to be performed successfully. The following skills and abilities are required:

  • spatial orientation,
  • memory,
  • quick thinking,
  • prompt decision-making,
  • numerical reasoning ability,
  • team work,
  • ability to work shifts,
  • reliability,
  • adaptability,
  • responsiveness,
  • excellent health,
  • good understanding and command of written and spoken English language.



The specific nature of the job of an air traffic control officer demands the requirements and criteria applied in the candidate recruitment and selection process for their enrolment into appropriate license/rating training, to be set at a very high level, and a team of authorized experts to be involved in the candidates` skills assessment and analyses.

SMATSA llc has established several phases of the recruitment and selection procedure:

  • pre-selection, i.e. determining whether candidates fulfill formal and legal conditions of the competition,
  • the English language placement testing,
  • aptitude tests,
  • medical examination,
  • interview with the selection committee.



The Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) training is conducted in the authorized aviation personnel training center, which has been properly accredited, and in accordance with the defined and approved training plans and syllabi. Training plans and syllabi differ depending on the type of license/rating, i.e. whether the candidate is being trained to work in the tower, approach or area control unit. Regardless of the type of license/rating, the training consists of a theoretical and a practical part.