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Air Traffic Controllers

Work Environment

Air traffic controllers are required to remain constantly alert and focused while performing a large number of simultaneous duties. They must keep track of several aircraft approaching, departing, and passing through the airspace under their control, while receiving flight data from and giving instructions to several pilots at once. They must remain alert to changes in weather and airport conditions, guide planes through intricate approach patterns, and maintain a safe separation of aircraft in the sky and on the ground. They must be able to interpret the symbols on the radar screen, form a clear image of what is happening in the sky above them, and react quickly and decisively to the activity of the aircraft. Controllers must also have strong communicative abilities and be able to give instructions to pilots in a firm and clear tone. The stress of the controller's job requires a great deal of emotional control, especially in times of potential danger and emergency. Traffic conditions change continuously throughout the controller's shift, and the controller must remain alert during times of light traffic as well as times of heavy traffic.

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