The International Day of the Air Traffic Controller, celebrated October 20th each year, marks the anniversary of IFATCA (International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations), which was founded on the 20th October 1961. The day also celebrates all the men and women around the world who work to help make air travel the safest possible mode of transport. Last year, over 3.5 billion passengers actually put their security and even “life in the sky” in the hands of air traffic controllers.
In Ghana, the controllers’ association is GHATCA (Ghana air traffic controllers Association) and they are one of the many member associations’ of IFATCA.
Ghana air traffic controllers manage the Accra Flight Information Region (FIR), which is made up of the air-spaces of Ghana, Togo and Benin as well as a vast portion of the Atlantic Ocean. The area covers 11° North to 9°South.
Every year they have regional and international conferences where they discuss new technology and solve problems. They also do well to assist other controllers in other countries with some of their challenges. The 26th Meeting of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association (IFATCA), Africa and Middle East Region (AFI) was held in Accra, in 2015. This brings in Controllers from all over Africa and the Middle East. Then in 2018 they hosted the 57th Annual international Conference attended by all controllers from around the globe.
The air traffic control profession is one that requires highly specialized knowledge, skills and abilities. Air traffic controllers must work rapidly and efficiently to coordinate the succinct movement of air traffic while ensuring its safe separation and maintaining total concentration. They must understand complex situations and make quick decisions while managing multiple flights at a time.
Air traffic controllers have an incredible amount of responsibility and the profession is subject to some of the strictest physical and mental medical requirements, making it one that is consistently regarded around the world as one of the most challenging
Equipment and systems introduced over the years have helped improve efficiency and contributed to a safe-and-sound ATC system, but the individual controller has always been the key element in the safe, efficient and environmentally responsible ATC network we have today. Controllers are the most flexible and adaptable element of the system, readily able to grow with continually evolving procedures, changing technical systems, and social and environmental constraints.
When they celebrate 20th of October each year, they celebrate the vision of their founding members, and they celebrate the countless volunteers who work to achieve the aims of their Federation. But most of all they celebrate the individual air traffic controller wherever he works or under whatever conditions she works, who strives each minute to give the utmost in service to the flying public , to bring you safely and efficiently to your destination.