Fran Slater - Air Traffic Controller and Group Supervisor
National Air Traffic Services
My life’s full of contrasts. Today I spent most of the morning playing Thomas the Tank Engine with my younger son, Matthew, but at work I become an adult again. I don’t need to worry about my children because my husband and I work complimentary shifts and we can look after them between us.
I love my job and look forward to it. Today my shift starts at 14:00. Generally it’s two mornings, followed by two afternoons and two nights. I can predict it at least a month in advance, which allows me to plan time off and book holidays.
It was 13:45 when I stopped in the briefing room before taking over. I control complex airspace but you’re very well trained for it. I work the Ockham sector for an hour and I will speak to about 30-35 aircraft. The longest I can work without a break is 90 minutes. So for the next half hour I check my e-mails, grab a coffee, talk to friends: anything really, as long as it’s not working on the console.
Later, I do a 90-minute co-ordinating session which involves answering the phones to other sectors and airfields. I mix my time between covering the radar for 60 to 90 minutes with 30 minute breaks; co-ordinating or supervising; this involves making sure all the people are in the right places at the right times, with the right qualifications and only working for less than the maximum times. I’m with Green Watch. Everybody on my watch feels part of a team and we mix socially together.
I finish at 22:00. It’s my second full afternoon and I feel good; everything’s gone well. Once you take your headset off that’s it. You go home with a good feeling that you’ve provided a good service to lots of aeroplanes.
I get home at 22:45, Dave and I have opened a bottle of wine and had a glass. After a chat and a bit of telly it’s off to bed. That’s it for a while as I’m off for a few days, but I’ve got an interesting course on team working coming up and I’m looking forward to it.”
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