Air Traffic Control History Essay

Air Traffic Control Essay

Nearly all air traffic controllers are employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency of the Federal Government.

Replacement needs will account for most job openings, reflecting the large number of air traffic controllers who will be eligible to retire over the next decade.

Competition to get into FAA training programs is expected to remain keen; however, graduates of these programs have good job prospects.

Air traffic controllers earn relatively high pay and have good benefits.

The air traffic control system is a vast network of people and equipment that ensures the safe operation of commercial and private aircraft. Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic to make certain that planes stay a safe distance apart. Their immediate concern is safety, but controllers also must direct planes efficiently to minimize delays. Some regulate airport traffic through designated airspaces; others regulate airport arrivals and departures.

Although airport tower controllers or terminal controllers watch over all planes traveling through the airport's airspace, their main responsibility is to organize the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport. Relying on radar and visual observation, they closely monitor each plane to ensure a safe distance between all aircraft and to guide pilots between the hangar or ramp and the end of the airport's airspace. In addition, controllers keep pilots informed about changes in weather conditions such as wind shear, a sudden change in the velocity or direction of the wind that can cause the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.

During arrival or departure, several controllers direct each plane. As a plane approaches an airport, the pilot radios ahead to inform the terminal of the plane's presence. The controller in the radar room, just beneath the control tower, has a copy of the plane's flight plan and already has observed the plane on radar. If the path is clear, the controller directs the pilot to a runway; if the airport is busy, the plane is fitted into a traffic pattern with other aircraft waiting to land. As the plane nears the runway, the pilot is asked to contact the tower. There, another controller, who also is watching the plane on radar, monitors the aircraft the last mile or so to the runway, delaying any departures that would interfere with the plane's landing. Once the plane has landed, a ground controller in the tower directs it along the taxiways to its assigned gate. The ground controller usually works entirely by sight, but may use radar if visibility is very poor.

The procedure is reversed for departures. The ground controller directs the plane to the proper runway. The local controller then informs the pilot about conditions at the airport, such as weather, speed and direction of wind, and visibility. The local controller also issues runway...

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Once, we were having a slow night. There was great clear weather for flying, but it was late, and there was probably something good on TV, so nobody was up in the air. I had no aircraft calling on frequency, and approach control hadn't called in any inbounds. The sky was empty, and there was nothing around me but silence.

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Again, I promise: not a porno.

That's when I saw it -- a blinking light floating over the runway at an undetermined altitude. I called approach and asked who the hell he'd sent into my airspace, but the guy on the other end was clueless. We listened for an engine, but, again, it was totally silent. There was merely that light, hanging in the air. It passed eerily over our runway and disappeared over the hills to the east.

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Since our sole responsibility was to make sure that this ghost plane was sufficiently distant from any other aircraft, we didn't notify anyone or follow up on it with the FBI or anything. There was nothing else in the sky, so whatever that light was, it presented no threat to aviation safety, which is where my job ends.

Laser-blasting the White House: technically not an aviation concern.

If I had to guess, I'd say that what we saw was a privately owned ultralight aircraft, even though private ultralight aircraft don't have any business or history of flying that close to that patch of airspace (a great way to get into a huge amount of trouble). However, if it was a bona fide flying saucer, it was piloted by aliens with a basic understanding of aviation safety. So at the very least, those aliens had seen Pushing Tin.

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