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Airservices Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Edwin Ha

As an Air Traffic Controller (ATC), I ensure that all flights transit the airspace safely to their destination whilst receiving all the relevant information pertaining to their flight.

What’s your job about?

Airservices Australia provides safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally-responsible air navigation and aviation rescue fire-fighting services to the aviation industry. Safely managing 11 per cent of the world’s airspace. There are three types of controllers; tower, terminal and en route. Each one handling a different stage of the flight. 

As an Air Traffic Controller (ATC), I ensure that all flights transit the airspace safely to their destination whilst receiving all the relevant information pertaining to their flight.
I currently work the en route airspace surrounding Perth airport. My day usually consists of issuing clearances to pilots to ensure they are separated from other airspaces users, as well as vectoring aircraft to form an orderly arrival sequence into Perth. However, on any day I may encounter many different scenarios which require us to respond and assist appropriately, such as in-flight emergencies, thunderstorms, turbulence etc. 

In addition to my duties as an ATC, I am also the Training Specialist for my group, which means I oversee all the training related issues. Some of these responsibilities include-

  • Fulfilling training and assessing duties in the simulator or operational environment
  • Develop and deliver classroom material
  • Develop simulator exercises
  • Provide guidance and advice to instructors on the conduct of training in general, and areas of focus and training expectations for individuals
  • Maintain training syllabus/documentation

What’s your background?

I was born in Canberra, however, grew up in Fiji until I was 5 years old. I then moved to Melbourne to begin my education and have been here ever since. 
My education has been similar to my work experience. Varying greatly in different fields. I tried my hand at engineering and found that it wasn’t what I expected and instead chose to finish my studies in a more creative area, multimedia. Similarly, my work experience prior to becoming an Air Traffic Controller varied from Panel Beating to Advertising.
Looking back on those times I would have to say I lacked a clear direction. That is until I stumbled across my current role. Finding an advertisement in the newspaper, I knew that was what I wanted to do. 

The application process was quite an extensive experience alongside candidates from across the country. I made it through different stages ranging from online testing, personality test, phone and panel interviews, and assessment days. I successfully passed the recruitment process and was offered a position. My training was fully paid for and provided by Airservices. The initial training lasted approximately 12 months, with a mixture of theory and practical based training. At the end of this period, I walked away with an AVI50115 Diploma in Aviation (Air Traffic Control) and commenced my final field training. 

After a further 3 months, I successfully gained my Air Traffic Control license and have now been working as an Air Traffic Controller for nearly 9 years. 
Working as an ATC has given me the opportunity to experience many other roles including instructing, safety investigations and also coming full circle to being involved in the recruitment process as an assessor.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

My time with Airservices has made me realise that people from all walks of life can make a good ATC. There is no particular background that necessarily makes a successful controller, we have a range of diverse backgrounds ranging from engineers to casino croupiers. In fact, a majority of controllers do not come from an aviation background.
The only prerequisites to apply for this role is to have obtained within the last 10 years, either a Year 12 graduate certificate, Diploma or Degree from a recognised Australian tertiary institution, or a commercial or private pilot’s license.

My time spent in training, assessing and recruiting has shown me that candidates who demonstrate strong spatial skills, the ability to learn quickly and assertively apply their knowledge are usually successful. The characteristics of a controller is someone who can efficiently analyse information from varying sources, follow instructions/procedures, and then effectively apply their knowledge while under pressure. There is a large “duty of care” component to the job, therefore, successful candidates need to be able to handle the responsibilities that come with the role.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I enjoy the reality of what I'm doing. Facing challenges each day and finding solutions to real-world scenarios in the most effective way possible. Similar to solving a puzzle, it is very much results driven and can be quite rewarding. The best thing about this job is that when you unplug your headset you get to walk away and go home without thinking about work.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Make friends! Teamwork is always important and can help push your learning experience. This was particularly true in my ATC training.
  • Honestly, think about what you want to do. I believe choosing a career that will make you content is one of the hardest choices in life. Once you know this you will be able to apply yourself 100%.
  • Create good habits early!