Cadet air-traffic controllers have an opportunity to reach new heights

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 January, 2010, 12:00am

The sky's the limit for anyone aspiring to become an air-traffic controller working in one of the world's busiest airports.

The Civil Aviation Department will begin its annual recruitment drive, starting in April, to hire 30 cadet air-traffic control officers.

Successful candidates will go to a 14-week air-traffic control course in Britain or New Zealand as part of their training.

According to Fiona Kam, assistant senior training officer at the Civil Aviation Department, the course aims to give students knowledge of aviation and broaden their exposure to air-traffic control.

Operations will include fundamental aviation subjects such as navigation, meteorology, telecommunications, aviation laws and air-traffic control procedures. On completion of the overseas training, students will receive specialised air-traffic control training on local air-traffic control procedures.

These include theory, practical exercises in a simulator and on-the-job training in an actual operational environment under the supervision of senior air-traffic controllers.

Career advancement prospects are excellent for cadets who pass the department's initial training course, which leads to certificates of competency - a mandatory requirement for cadets who want to become air-traffic controllers in Hong Kong.

The certificates are necessary for cadets to be considered for promotion to the third rank as an air-traffic controller.

For that, they will need to go through a further 18-months of solo-control consolidation to obtain qualifications such as approach control surveillance and area control surveillance.

Air-traffic controllers can expect more advanced professional training and duties with greater responsibility when they progress to the second and first rank which, Kam says, is a senior professional-grade officer who has to perform supervisory and management duties at the department. At present, there are about 200 air-traffic control officers across all professional grades at the Civil Aviation Department and all are required to perform shift duty.

Keen competition on the cadet training programme means that, other than academic qualifications, candidates need to have special qualities and attributes to stand out from the pack.

'Successful candidates need to demonstrate fluency in English, be able to stay calm under pressure, with good a numeric and directional sense, have good situational awareness and be able to co-operate well in a team environment,' Kam says.

'It is also important that the applicants display a genuine interest and enthusiasm in the aviation profession.'

With the aviation industry in Hong Kong and the mainland continuing to prosper, Kam believes that qualified air-traffic controllers, with the relevant aviation knowledge and practical experience in air-traffic operations, will be given abundant opportunities in different areas of civil aviation, including regulatory issues, flight procedures development, training and safety management.