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26TH IFATCA AFM Regional Meeting, 28 - 30 October 2015

What is Air Traffic Control

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How does air traffic move into and out of an airport or across Ghana? How do these aircraft keep from colliding with each other?

The task of ensuring safe operations of commercial and private aircraft falls on air traffic controllers who coordinate the movement of thousands of aircraft, keep them at a safe distance from each other, vector them during takeoff and landing from airports, vector them around bad weather and ensure the orderly flow of air traffic with minimal delays.

Air traffic controllers in Ghana are responsible for aircraft traveling over the airspaces of Ghana, Togo, Benin and a large portion of the Gulf of Guinea. This airspace block is called the Accra Flight Information Region.

Air traffic control is a complex system that ensures the smooth operation of a flight from departure to arrival. The Aircraft prior to departure and immediately after departure is handled by Aerodrome controllers.

An aircraft departing from an airport is handled by Approach controllers who make use of Radar to vector (or direct) aircraft on course. As the aircraft sets on course, the approach controller hands over responsibility of the aircraft to Area controllers who also monitor the aircraft on Radar screens and give instructions to the pilots. As the aircraft enters a new airspace division, area controllers hand over the aircraft to the controllers responsible for the new airspace. Since at any particular point in time, there are numerous aircraft in the skies, air traffic controllers also have the responsibility to keep all aircraft at a safe distance from each other by using well established standards and separation rules.

On the other hand, any aircraft coming in to land in any airport or aerodrome within the Accra FIR is controlled by Area Controllers who give the necessary instructions to the pilot to navigate within the Accra Fir to the intended airport or aerodrome whiles separating the aircraft from other aircraft. The aircraft at a particular distance and level to the airport comes under the jurisdiction of Approach controllers who vector aircraft expeditiously and hands over aircraft to aerodrome controllers when the aircraft is aligned to the runway and at a particular distance and level.

The global airspace has been divided into several airspace blocks and regions and each is manned by air traffic controllers.