Air Traffic Controllers – Pillars of The Aviation Industry


For the past 20 years, the air traffic services in Jamaica have boasted an accident-free record. This speaks volumes of the work being done by the behind-the-scenes workers, who are committed to ensuring the safety of every flight under their jurisdiction. These workers are the Air Traffic Controllers.
Today, October 20, is being celebrated as International Air Traffic Controllers Day. The day was first designated by the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association in 1961, and has been observed every year since then.
In an interview with JIS News, Howard Greaves, President of the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association (JATCA) outlined the concept behind designating a special day to honour Air Traffic Controllers.
“This is a day to commemorate Air Traffic Controllers, provide an opportunity for them to feel appreciated for their job and the work they do, and sensitise the public to the unparalleled work that the Air Traffic Controllers are doing,” said Mr. Greaves.
According to the JATCA President, Air Traffic Controllers have long been pillars of the aviation industry with a mandate to provide safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.
They provide air traffic services to all flights crossing the Kingston Flight Information Region, aircraft landing and departing from Jamaica’s two international airports as well as the Tinson Pen Aerodrome.
While the contribution of the Air Traffic Controllers is invaluable, members of the public, who are often ignorant or unappreciative of the work they do, often discount it, pointed out Mr. Greaves.
“It is one of those jobs in which there is a lot of stress involved and the rewards may not be as much, but it is fulfilling at the end of the day, when we realise that we have accomplished a ‘cycle’ or what we consider one year without incidents or accidents,” he added.
The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority currently employs 80 Air Traffic Controllers and the CAA works with the JACTA to upgrade the skills and proficiencies of the workers.
“That is in fact one of the mandates of the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association. We constantly work closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that where training is needed, we get the requisite training, whether the course is being offered locally or overseas. With regard to new equipment being installed, training is provided for using the equipment,” Mr. Greaves said.
“Apart from going on courses to upgrade our skills as it pertains to the job, we also have to do our performance appraisals every year through quality assurance, so it’s a constant cross-checking to ensure that we have the requisite knowledge and our skills are in what we call ‘peak form’,” he told JIS News.
Meanwhile, the JATCA is currently in negotiations with the CAA “to establish a Critical Incident Stress Management Programme, where any Controller who has a problem, whether on or off the job, can be sent for counselling,” Mr. Greaves disclosed.
Until that programme is implemented, Air Traffic Controllers who need time to unwind will continue to benefit from vacation or any other type of leave, so that they may relax and de-stress.

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