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Brian1946's avatar

How knowledgeable about flying an airplane do air traffic controllers have to be?

Asked by Brian1946 (27799points) May 27th, 2011

I just heard a report about a controller, who gave tower-to-aircraft instructions to a passenger, on how to control and land a private airplane.

Do controllers have to be qualified pilots, or do they just have to be current on basic aircraft training?

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7 Answers

Ron_C's avatar

I have a great deal of experience with Air Traffic Controllers. The do not need to have a pilot license but many do because they are very interested in their job.

They all must, however understand the characteristics of the aircraft they are guiding because you cannot ask a 747 to perform the same maneuvers that you would expect from a Beechcraft 1900

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Ron_C A young relative has always dreamed about being an airplane pilot but cannot be one due to some sort of minor sight impairment. I’ve told him that he should look into other career options pertaining to flying. Might a job as an air traffic controller be an option for him?

Ron_C's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer It has been a number of years since I’ve worked in the tower but I do know that the Controllers was almost as extensive as a pilots, at least for eyesight (including color perception), hearing, and they were also evaluated for their ability to work in a high stress environment.

My oldest daughter was downgraded because of very slight vision anomaly that I never understood. Her vision was actually better than 20–20. That blew her Naval Academy application but she did fine as an NCO in the regular Navy.

I think you can find a full list of qualifications on an FAA website.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Ron_C Thank you so much for the information. He lives in England, so the qualifications may be different, but I’ll suggest that he at least check into it.

Brian1946's avatar


Thanks for your expert answer. :-)

Air traffic controllers are so much more valuable than Reagan ever was as a president.

Ron_C's avatar

@Brian1946 Firing the Controllers was done with complete disregard to our entire flight system and any consideration for the safety of civilians and the health of the remaining Air Traffic controllers. The controllers that remained did a heroic job with few resources and no only opposition from the government. Frankly Reagan made Bush (either one) look like genius’s and if he wasn’t stupid then he was evil. It would be nice if there was a christian hell where he could roast for eternity for the harm he has done to our country, south America, and in most of the world.

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