The Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) celebrates the international day of the air traffic control officer (ATCO) on 20 October 2011. Since the day it was first celebrated, 20 October 1961, ATNS takes a moment to reflect on the role that the ATC plays in its very dynamic environment.

The long-standing culture among ATCOs is that the job will be done ‘no matter the circumstances, no matter the working conditions.’ This air traffic control ethic is at the core of the safest and most efficient means of transport that is air travel.

Equipment and systems introduced over the years have helped improve the efficiency and contributed to a sound and safe ATC system, but the individual controller has always been and remains to be the key element in the safe, efficient and environmentally responsible ATC global network it has today.

ATCOs are the most flexible and adaptable element of the system, readily able to grow with continually evolving procedures, changing technical systems, and social and environmental constraints. No other “technology” is so adaptable, productive and cost effective.

The ATC environment has evolved over the years and South Africa is very fortunate to have some of the world’s leading technology and professional ATC’s that together contribute to the safety of the skies.

On 18 October 2011, The minister of transport with the chairman and the CEO of ATNS in attendance launched the high technology 3D aerodrome simulator in Kempton Park. This best-in-the-industry aviation equipment will allow for the effective and cost-efficient training of air traffic control officers.

As ATNS celebrates this day each year, it most celebrates the individual air traffic control officer wherever he or she works or under whatever conditions he or she works as they strive to give the utmost in service to the flying public, to bring you safely and efficiently to your destination anywhere and at anytime.

There are approximately 50,000 ATCOs worldwide and ATNS ATCOs rank among the best in the world. In South Africa, there are over 500 active ATCOs.

“Today we celebrate with you and we acknowledge your achievements, past and present. Together we look forward to taking ATNS to even greater heights because of our dedicated and professional workforce. To all the ATCO’s be proud, safe and professional,” saidATNS CEO, Patrick Dlamini, in recognising this important day.