Air traffic controllers at Suvarnabhumi airport are expecting to handle more than 500,000 flights by year's end. You might call them the unsung heroes of the aviation industry.
The view from the air traffic ontrol tower at Suvarnabhumi airport. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
The unsung heroes of aviation
Air traffic controllers at Suvarnabhumi airport are expecting to handle more than 500,000 flights by year's end.
You might call them the unsung heroes of the aviation industry
The job may not be as glamorous as that of an airline pilot but it is just as essential.
Authorising landings and take-offs demands concentration, accuracy and zero mistakes, because air traffic controllers are responsible for aircraft and their passengers, said Piyanate Chuasomboon, a 32-year-old air traffic controller at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Ms Piyanate has worked as an air traffic controller (ATC) for seven-and-a-half years. In her first three years she worked at Phuket airport.
‘‘ATCs must not make any mistakes, but they may not always be able to ensure smooth traffic. For example, from 11pm to midnight, there are numerous departures to Europe, Korea and Japan and it is very difficult to discharge 20-30 planes in 1-2 minutes (between them) — especially when weather conditions are taken into account,’’ Ms Piyanate said.
Three ATCs manage traffic on the ground for the eastern, central and western parking areas for aircraft. JETJARAS NA RANONG
According to her, air traffic controllers work a two-days-on, two-days-off schedule.
An ATC works from 8am to 8pm on the first day and on the second day from 8pm to 8am. They are not on duty for the entire 12-hour shift, but work one to two hours at a time, taking one-hour breaks in between.
During each shift at Suvarnabhumi airport, there are five ATCs on duty.
Two supervise planes on the eastern and western runways and communicate information about winds and weather conditions to pilots.
They receive real-time weather information from the Meteorological Department.
The other three ATCs manage traffic on the ground for the eastern, central and western parking areas for aircraft.
ATCs use computers to help them do their work.
It’s a challenge to communicate information as quickly and accurately as possible, Ms Piyanate said, especially the code names of flights. ATCs must also make swift decisions when airplanes have problems, such as critically ill passengers.
The most difficult part of the ATC job is weather, she added, which can change minute-by-minute. There might be rain to the north of the airport, for example, and in less than a minute a wind shear might come from the south or the east.
University graduates can apply to be ATCs. They must not be older than 27 and must pass entrance examinations in English, mathematics, computer, typing and mental health.
The training takes about two years to complete.
Miss Piyanate said the best reward of her job is a thank you from pilots.
Adapted from a story in today's Bangkok Post by Armornrat Mahitthirook.
unsung – not praised or famous but deserving to be ที่ไม่มีชื่อเสียง
aviation – the flying of aircraft การบิน
handle – to be able deal with a situation ควบคุมได้, จัดการได้
glamorous – especially attractive and exciting, and different from ordinary things or people ซึ่งดึงดูดใจ,มีเสน่ห์,เต็มด้วยความตื่นเต้นและการผจญภัย
essential – necessary ที่จำเป็น
authorise – to give official permission for something, or to give someone official permission to do something อนุญาต, ให้สิทธิ
landing – an act of bringing an aircraft down to the ground after a journey การลงสู่พื้นดิน
take-off – leaving the ground and beginning to fly บินขึ้น
demand – to require something, e.g., a lot of skill, patience, effort, etc. ต้องการ (ความสามารถและความอดทนความพยายาม)
concentration – the process of giving all your attention to something ความตั้งอกตั้งใจ,ความเอาใจใส่
accuracy – the state of being exact or correct; the ability to do something skilfully without making mistakes ความแม่นยำ
responsible for – to have a duty to do something มีความรับผิดชอบ
ensure – to make certain that something happens or is done ให้การยืนยัน, รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ
smooth – happening or continuing without any problems โดยไม่มีปัญหา, มีประสิทธิภาพ
numerous – many มากมาย
departure – leaving การออกจาก
discharge – to allow someone/something officially to leave somewhere, in this case, a plane อนุญาตให้ออก
conditions – the weather at a particular time สภาพอากาศ
take into account – to consider; to think carefully about the various factors involved before making a decision or developing an opinion พิจารณา, คิดอย่างละเอียด
schedule – a list showing the times at which particular events, jobs, etc. will happen ตารางเวลา
shift – a period of work time in a place where some people work during the day and some work at night เวร, กะ หรือระยะเวลาทำงานเป็นช่วงๆ,
supervise – to be in charge of an activity and to check that everything is being done correctly ดูแล ควบคุม
runway – a long narrow strip of ground with a hard surface that an aircraft takes off from and lands on ทางขึ้นลงของเครื่องบิน
real-time – actual time; dealing with information as soon as it is received ตามเวลาจริง
Meteorological Department – the government department in charge of determining what the weather will be in the future กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา
challenge – something that needs a lot of skill, energy, and determination to deal with or achieve สิ่งที่ท้าทาย, การท้าทาย
parking area – a place where motor vehicles, aircraft, etc. are parked ลานจอด
code name – a set of letters/numbers that identifies someone/something รหัส
swift – quick อย่างรวดเร็ว
critically ill – very seriously ill or injured and might die อาการหนัก
wind shear – a quick change in winds over a short distance experienced by aircraft and possibly making it difficult to control the height above the ground that the aircraft is flying แรงเฉือนลม
apply – to make a formal request for a job of position สมัครงาน
mental health – the state of health of the mind สุขภาพจิต
reward – something given in exchange for good behaviour or good work, etc รางวัล
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