Pilots step into shoes of air traffic controllers

Pilots step into shoes of air traffic controllers

Pilots step into shoes of air traffic controllers

Mumbai: For decades, their mutual disdain has been the staple of aviation jokes the world-over. Pilots and air-traffic controllers share a very special hate-hate relationship over those VHF communication waves. In between a take-off and a landing, the words that fly between a cockpit and a control tower can at times get heavy with a quick rebuttal here, a spit-fire duet there, a reprimand or a slighting remark.
So, when a handful of Air India

(domestic) commanders walked into the air traffic control tower in Andheri for the first time in their lives on Monday and met a group of controllers–whose voices were familiar, but faces were not–it was something like a new start or rather, taking off on a new flight plan.

“It’s a move to understand each other better,” said Capt R S Otaal of Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association (ICPA).

Other airlines are expected to attend similar meetings in the tower in the coming weeks.Thereafter, small batches of pilots will make familiarisation rounds to the Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata ATC towers. ATCOs, on the other hand, will fly in jump seats to see and experience first-hand the infinitesimal tolerances of a cockpit. “They will see that we can’t put parking brakes while flying. And we will know that a single controller handles 10-12 flights at a time and so we should not ask them for a lot of things in one breath,” said Capt Otaal.
It’s not a novel idea__other countries have frequent interactions between the two groups. “In India, these interactions stopped seven years ago. Now, we have re-started it. But even back in the ’90s, only executive-level pilots and ATC staff met. This time, we are going for the grassroots,” the commander said.

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~ by anand213 on April 9, 2009.

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