"Out there on the airfield, controlling multiple aircraft movement is like completing a giant puzzle. It can be quite a challenge upstairs in the tower, so we typically split the airfield to divide the work up. During the winter we try to use three sections—a north, centre and south ground control. That helps us deal with all the activity on the airfield."
Pilots call the airport’s apron tower to get permission to push back from the gate and the apron controllers will guide that aircraft to a taxiway entrance. From there, the pilot calls an Air Traffic Controller like me, sitting in the NAV CANADA control tower. We guide that aircraft through the taxiways to a take-off position. As the Tower Control, we’re trying to get departures out in between two arrivals. As one is landing, we’re lining up the next departure and they need to be airborne before the next arrival touches the runway.
What I love the most about this job is the challenging nature and being able to train others. I help run the on-the-job training program for those that are successful in their application to NAV Canada. You definitely have to be adaptable to do this job, continuing to work through problems and sticking with it. Sometimes, people just have a natural ability. But you can’t always see it on a resume—you need to see them in action.
Working with the Instructors and being there for the students—helping them get where they need to be—is really satisfying."
- Melissa, Air Traffic Controller and Instructor, NAV Canada