Thursday, March 08, 2018

On Women’s Day, a monopoly of airspace

Thiruvananthapuram: On Thursday, pilots of aircraft negotiating the airspace under the Thiruvananthapuram international airport will be guided by the voices of 16 women Air Traffic Controllers.

On International Women’s Day, the Airports Authority of India has entrusted them with the task of manning the airspace from Agatti in the west to Tiruchirappalli in the east, from Kozhikode in the north to around 400 km from Thiruvananthapuram in the south of the airport. They will be on duty from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., said airport director George G. Tharakan.
From morning itself, women will take over the vital operational positions namely tower, surface movement control, area radar, and approach radar. The job of an Air Traffic Controller involves a complex set of tasks requiring high levels of knowledge, presence of mind and application of specific skills. They are expected to multitask — to communicate with pilots, avoid collisions, peruse radar screen, and talk to adjacent controllers units all at the same time with zero margin for error.

While remaining vigilant throughout, they will also have to cope with unexpected aircraft emergencies or aircraft route deviations due to weather conditions. Around 100 flights, including overseas ones, will have to be handled in the six hours.

Of the 65 Air Traffic Controllers on the rolls in the airport under the Joint GM, Air Traffic Management, M. Balachandran Nair, 17 are women.
08/03/18 The Hindu