I make sure you get from point A to point B safely! I'll answer questions as much as I can without revealing anything I can't!

EDIT: The FAA is hiring beginning August 8th-15th. If you haven't gone to CTI school, you don't have to take the BIO Q, if you're off the streets, you'll have to take the BIO Q when you apply.

[IMG]http://i67.tinypic.com/2mmtytg.jpg[/IMG] http://i67.tinypic.com/2mmtytg.jpg http://tinypic.com/r/2mmtytg/9

Comments: 171 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

katievsbubbles7 karma

Have you ever had a "looks like i picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue" days?

antoniouxque6 karma

Haha, that made me laugh, but no. Honestly I got into this job because I love aviation, but hate flying, so it was a way for me to stay in aviation but keep my feet on the ground.

crampton161 karma

Just a follow up on your answer: do you dislike being in an airborne vehicle per se or is it more about not caring to steer one yourself?

antoniouxque1 karma

To be honest, I just get sick on landing lol, it's too rocky.

justscottaustin5 karma

Why is it important to be in "a tower?" Does visual really even matter to you guys?

antoniouxque9 karma

It matters a TON! I'd say it matters most for issues like runway incursions. From a ground perspective it would be nearly impossible to make sure the runway was clear from end to end before aircraft access it.

justscottaustin1 karma

So, at an airport like O'Hara of DFW, I guess you're telling me that there are a bunch of towers? The only ones I have seen have been at smaller airports where there is only one tower.

antoniouxque5 karma

The simple reason you see multiple towers at a place like DFW is because of the width of the airport and the traffic. One tower simply can't cover that much ground, so in order to get adequate vis of the airport they put as many as needed to operate safely.

kemnitz5 karma

Usually a photo with your username handwritten is better proof, icydk.

Anyway a question for you. How large is the airport you are stationed at? And what is the dream gig for a ATC?

antoniouxque5 karma

Sorry about that. I felt like working for the government and doing what of these was shunned, so I didn't want to reveal too much, but I promise it's me! And in ATC they base the airport off the amount of operations you have at the airport. An operation is either an aircraft landed, or departed. My facility is a level 5, which is the lowest level on the scale currently. I'd say a dream facility for an ATC is possibly a tower that is quiet like mine, after you've been at a higher facility, so your pay gets transferred over.

McPick4 karma

Why was my plane to JFK from LAX so late last night?

antoniouxque5 karma

Because the pilot was getting lucky.

chancethecandyrapper2 karma

Did you always know you wanted to be an air traffic controller? If so, what kinds of things did you do to get into this career - i.e. what choices did you make in your education about what to study, etc?

antoniouxque3 karma

You know what, my parents told me that they always saw it in me, as my dad would always take me out to watch airplanes land at the local airport. I think the day I realized I wanted to be an air traffic controller was when I bought a police scanner and took it to the airport and listened to the ATC. I said to myself "I could totally do that!" As far as education, I got a degree in aviation science. You don't need the degree anymore to get in, but it was nice having knowledge of instruments and procedures before going into the academy.

GildoFotzo2 karma

Roulette Croupier or Air Traffic Controller - who is more busy in your opinion?

antoniouxque1 karma

Stock broker trumps all.

COCKHITLER2 karma

Is it true all people in ATC have a coffee addiction?

antoniouxque1 karma

I'm addicted to red bull, does that count?

Frogface402 karma

Private pilot here! How on earth can you people understand everyone so well? From the quiet transmissions to the hard to make out tail numbers, you guys always get it first try! Are the radio systems at a tower extremely powerful? Thanks for keeping the skies clear

antoniouxque1 karma

And thank you for keeping the passengers safe! I'd give the credit to the headsets. Plantronics are a thing of wonder!

Frogface401 karma

Also, how on earth do you come up with transponder codes? It always seems like ATC just says whatever comes to their minds and there's a slight hesitation as if they're thinking of random numbers.

antoniouxque1 karma

Haha no they are computer generated dependent on what type of flight plan you're on.

TryAgainIn8Minutes2 karma

What airport do you work at? Or if you're not allowed to answer that, is it a general aviation, a small, medium, or large airport?

antoniouxque1 karma

We handle mostly general aviation, with a mix of military and a few commercial flights a day.

Kl3232 karma

For jets flying over major bodies of water, are they always I contact with one particular tower and they get handed off to the next closest tower as they move through?

I'm guessing there's never radio silence as satellites should keep the plane in communication with a tower at any time.

antoniouxque1 karma

Aircraft that fly over large bodies of water, such as the pacific or Atlantic stay in contact with a center, which for the most part handle aircraft about 18000 ft, or flight level 180. There's variations to it, but it can get complicated based on what type of airspace it is.

Tm232462 karma

How much education and training do you need for your work?

antoniouxque2 karma

More than what is currently taught at CTI schools, but it's a good start. The 7110.65 is the controller bible, and has all the rules and regs. It's important to know it, but I'd say the most important thing is phraseology. Knowing what to say, and when to say it, and how to say it properly.

ru403422 karma

Few stupid questions here if you don't mind:

1) Have you ever forgot the pilot's alphabet or those number system used in aviation? How long it took for you to fully remember those?

2) From the atc audio clips it seems you guys (ATC and pilots) talk really fast and often not very clear. Do you (and the pilots you work with) have any problem hearing or understanding pilots over the radio especially when the orders are long (taxi, weather etc.)?

3) How are the flying levels and headings decided by ATCs? Do ATCs follow the strict rules provided or decide on the spot?

antoniouxque2 karma

  1. Glad to say I never have! It took a couple days to get the phonetic alphabet down. It's all military based.

  2. Sometimes it's VERY hard to understand pilots. One thing we notice is that we tend to talk fast during busy operations. Ironically if we slowed down it would make the busy times less stressful.

  3. There are many factors, but the basic is this: If you're flying west it's even numbered altitudes, if you're flying east it's odd numbered altitudes. Then it changes based on if you're VFR or IFR, weather, other factors.

The_Trekspert1 karma

What about north/south?

antoniouxque1 karma

If you're traveling heading 360-179 you'll fly odd. 180-359 flying even.

iphoneluver2 karma

have you ever had to deal with a "pan-pan-pan" call? and if so what happened?

antoniouxque1 karma

Never! And when those happen, that's when a controller is truly tested.

superphily22 karma

Is it true that the controllers have too many planes on their plate or its not that bad? Also how do they coordinate all the planes without being able to visually see them all at once easily?

antoniouxque1 karma

Radar. Without radar they go into "non" radar, which at that point, the separation is increased to make up for it. Controllers are trained to keep planes separated, it's why we're here! The air space system is made up of many jet ways, navaids, etc, which help keep aircraft organized. There's always traffic management put in place that helps spread out departures, arrivals, etc.

SplendidNokia2 karma

Are all controllers bat shit insane? I know a few at the COS facility and wonder how guys like Goddammit Gary even made it past Darwinism this long.

antoniouxque1 karma

LOL, I'm happy to report that all my co workers are normal and cool guys. We usually hangout together, hike etc. it's a small group of people when you get into it, which is nice!

GoldenPeonies2 karma

Do you have an idea of when the next hiring for the public is? Also, how is the work-life balance?

antoniouxque1 karma

Rumor is this month they'll have an open hire! Www.usajobs.gov

legolover543212 karma

How do you become an ATC?

Thanks

antoniouxque2 karma

Wait for an open hire, or go to CTI school, and apply as a grad. All openings are through usajobs.gov.

hroberths2 karma

Thanks for your AMA! What did you study in college? I am becoming a junior in high school and want to become an aerospace engineer. Suppose I want to launch a self built rocket, would I have to consult the FAA? (I don't know much aerospace engineering, but it's always been my dream as a kid and still is. How much math is required to learn the fundamentals of aerodynamics?)

antoniouxque2 karma

Wow! That's pretty cool! To be honest, with all the drone work these days, I'd imagine it's getting very strict in what is allowed in the airspace. I personally don't know about a rocket launch specifically, but it definitely sounds like something you'd have to clear with your local FAA region. As far as math goes, knowing your basic D=RT problems is the biggest thing. If you can get that down, ATC is a lot simpler. For engineering, I'd guess that you'll need trig and calc though.

haney202 karma

I've read before that an ATC is incredibly stressful. Any truth to this?

antoniouxque2 karma

It just depends on your workload and the weather mostly. As in the last question, if you're at a higher level facility working 100 ops an hour in bad weather, it's very stressful!

tanyatornkiki2 karma

How hard is it to become an ATC? I'd like to become an ATC too!

antoniouxque2 karma

It's actually relatively easy nowadays. You can come on as an "off the street" hire as long as you have 3 progressive years of work experience. Look for open hires on USAJOBS.GOV. I hear the next hiring opening is this month!

Karpathos812 karma

Did you receive special training for the job?

antoniouxque1 karma

Just went to CTI school, which is two years of various aviation classes. Ground school, aircraft recognition and performance, phraseology, etc.

zoidboob2 karma

What does Hollywood always get wrong about ATC?

antoniouxque5 karma

The work load, realistic. Being able to get blown by wake turbulence and survive, unlikely..

antoniouxque2 karma

Nothing. It's pretty spot on.

Coffee, very male work force heavy, and tons of aircraft.

ZMild2 karma

So what's the most interesting airplane you've controlled?

What part of ATC -- ground, tower, center, what?

antoniouxque5 karma

We had a B1 Bomber come in. That thing is like the military version of the Concorde. Absolutely gorgeous, and LOUD! He never landed, but it was awesome to see it do the low approaches.

GildoFotzo-2 karma

Loud? I always thought its silent as a ladies fart.

antoniouxque1 karma

You'd think so! But with the afterburners it is LOUD!

theofanhs2 karma

From what I've heard besides being in a unimaginably responsible job the perks and benefits are perfect.
what do you like the most?
perhaps feel like sharing a story on a busy AF rainy/snowy night which made you feel like taking a week off?
Also how can one get into this line of job?

antoniouxque10 karma

The job is amazing. From the time I've been in it thus far I love it and have still a lot to learn! I haven't had an experience yet that has really put me over the top, solely because my particular airport isn't all that busy. As long as you keep on with your present aircraft, and make sure what needs to be done is done when it's supposed to be done, it's tough to fall behind.

And as far as getting the job, it used to be incredibly hard to get, but now it's gotten easier. Originally, you had to go to a CTI school and get a degree in Aviation Science to be considered. Now they just hire people "off the street" with no aviation experience. You just have to have 3 years of progressive work experience. USAJOBS.GOV is your go to for checking if vacancies are open!

ATC_Boilermaker-1 karma

This is incorrect. Congress just passed a reauthorization bill, and CTI hiring will commence again soon per the requirements of the bill. It will go back to the way it was. Majority from VRA and CTI, some from OTS/

antoniouxque2 karma

I actually JUST saw this on my old CTI schools Facebook! That is awesome. Hopefully some of friends that still haven't gotten in have a chance now! Especially because if you go in as a CTI grad you don't have to take the BIO Q.

Why_Did_Bodie_Die1 karma

Where do you work and what are the security codes I would need to know to get inside the control room?

antoniouxque10 karma

I like my job

jajolt1 karma

What do you do to pass the time on slow days (if there is such a thing at your airport)? Has this job changed your perception of flying?

antoniouxque1 karma

I usually just reread my facilities SOPs(standard operation procedures). If there's nothing new and I'm caught up I'll organize stuff, reload supplies. Whatever needs to be done!

Frogface401 karma

Oh wow that's so cool. So if I wanted to transition through airspace of multiple airports or if I'm on flight following, what does your end of this look like? What procedures would you follow to do all this?

antoniouxque1 karma

It all depends on your particular flight plan, and what airspace you're going to be going through. If you're at higher altitudes you'll talk to less airports and more centers/approach control on your flight, but if you're transitioning through multiple airports well either just get a point out, or control you depending on traffic demands. Hope that helps!

mooman4131 karma

Great job and I have a couple questions: 1. How do you feel about any attempts to privatize the industry? 2. How bad were work conditions for ATC during their strike in the early 80's?

antoniouxque1 karma

The only issue with privatization is the salary caps. I'm hoping it would grandfather in so to speak but it could get weird. Also, the general standards for dress code etc could change.

From what I've heard about the strike, it was rough. I know that one of my old instructors came on right after the big strike, and he said when he got to work there was NO ONE available. Long work shifts, little breaks. Not fun..

B12Bomber1 karma

  1. Do you work in a tower, approach, or an ARTCC?

  2. Do you have any advice for us pilots on how to make your job easier?

  3. What are some ways to train to be an ATC (online games?)

  4. What is the FAA minimum landing distance between 2 single engine planes to land on the same runway at the same time?

  5. Have you ever said anything cringworthy to another controller/pilot?

  6. How many attractive girls are ATC's? My instructor taught me that 1/10 are maybe worth looking at

  7. If you are familiar with ARTCC, which are the premier ones to go work in?

  8. If a tower controller, do you prefer busy airports or smaller class D airports?

  9. Have you ever reversed the roles and you being the pilot/pax in front seat and talking to controllers?

antoniouxque0 karma

  1. Tower
  2. Listen!
  3. Tetris!
  4. Cat 1: 3000ft Cat 2: 4500ft Cat 3: Off runway
  5. I haven't but "C you next time" is what someone will say if they're mad, (see if you can figure that one out)
  6. Hahahahahah, 0/10
  7. Most centers are in decent areas, but as far as traffic goes, NY and LA are most likely the busiest. Oakland center is in an expensive area unless you want to live in a rough area.
  8. I like the busier airports where you get to see airliners and work more traffic. One up side of a class D is that you get to see more interesting less popular props and such though.
  9. I have never! I would love to ride a jump seat some day and see what the pilots do when we give them certain clearances though!

B12Bomber1 karma

Which tower do you work at? If you don't want to give that out, which region are you in and i can probably guess it

antoniouxque1 karma

If you can probably guess it, and I don't want to disclose it, why would I tell you the region? ;)

iltsl1 karma

The videos on YouTube of pilots getting mad etc with ATC and saying they'll "file a report". Does anything really come of those?

What airline's pilots are the hardest to understand?

When pilots get a rapid sequence of taxiing instructions, do they write it down somewhere or go off of pure memory?

antoniouxque3 karma

It just depends. If it's really not a good day for the pilot, he'll file a report, but it takes a LOT of investigation, I.E. going through tapes, getting multiple statements, it's more of a hassle so it doesn't happen as often I think.

From all the ATC tapes I've listened to, the Asians pilots are quite difficult to understand, though they understand ATC perfectly!

Most pilots these days I believe go by memory. One thing I've noticed is that the same pilots fly the same routes often so they learn the airports pretty quickly and know that if they're assigned a certain runway, they'll know what taxi instructions will probably be given!

iltsl1 karma

Interesting. Thank you for replying. Surprised to hear that they go off memory, seems like a lot of room for error but I'm not a pilot!

antoniouxque1 karma

Well I've never seen a cockpit, but maybe some have a notepad to write things down!

linkankit1 karma

Studies usually suggest working in spurts with short breaks (25 min. with 5 min. breaks) to attain maximum efficiency. As an ATC, I don't believe that is possible, and you have to work at least 3-4 hours at a stretch.

What do you do differently to maintain that same amount of focus and concentration for an extended period of time? Is this part of the training? Is this skill developed mostly on the job?

Thanks for the AMA.

antoniouxque2 karma

Hey! Great question. I've noticed that above all, not letting myself go unfocused in the first place is the biggest factor. If I start to feel myself drift into other thoughts, like what I'm eating at lunch, or what movie I'm going to watch later, it can become hard to gain focus back, so staying aware is extremely important. At my facility we take a break usually every hour, so it's not as bad as it could be. On my breaks I like to try and stay active, like walking the stairs from the floor to the tower and so forth. More traffic is better. If you have less traffic and fewer calls to make, it can become draining to sit and just wait.

nroth211 karma

But at most facilities now that there's a shortage of personnel and still a lot of traffic, you can expect an hour and 45 hour work load with a 20-30 minute break or a 40-1 hour lunch.

antoniouxque1 karma

Well, I'm glad I'm not at a facility like that, lol. We get used to breaks, it would be interesting to start working 3-4 runs at a time.

Numbers_Station1 karma

Did you get placed anywhere according to your geographic preferences or did they send you somewhere random?

antoniouxque2 karma

You have absolutely no control over it initially. The way it works now is the person that scores the highest out of your class gets to choose first from a list of random facilities that have vacancies. Second highest chooses second, and so forth. On my list, most facilities were on the east coast, but it just varies depending on retirement and transfers when you go through the academy.

pyrethedragon1 karma

When are you planning to start using electronic flight strips?

antoniouxque1 karma

I haven't heard yet but it's all being implemented relatively soon so I've heard!

LikeInuits1 karma

Hello and thanks again for the taking the time to answer some of our questions about the safe and efficient operation of aircraft through our nation's airspace!

I graduated from SCSU in MN with a degree in Aviation - Operations (CTI) four years ago now. I currently work for an aviation company in Denver, CO but am looking forward to the August 8th hiring panel as legislation seems to have loosened recently and things are looking up for CTIs this time around! Been through four different hiring panels thus far with no luck...I hear patience is of the utmost importance in this game!

I know a good amount about the job description, facility levels, pay, benefits, but am wondering more specifically about your time spent at the Academy. Can you explain just how rigorous the training was, how often you studied, your living situation while there, compensation, the intensity of the final PV, facility placement etc.? Thanks again!

antoniouxque1 karma

Hey! Well I wish you all the best during the upcoming panel! Everyone who wants this job deserves to get it. As far as the academy goes, it was tough. Switching from morning shifts one week to night shifts the next was probably the hardest thing to deal with. As far as the course work, basics is decently easy to grasp as long as you pay attention. What I found helped a ton was atbasics.faa.gov. It's the FAAs practice basics test, and it pretty much mimics the same questions you'll see on the basics test. Once you start initial training for en route or terminal, studying becomes extremely important. Since I was terminal, we set up a table top airport in our house and used toy planes. We gave each plane a call sign and controlled the traffic. phraseology, phraseology, phraseology. Oh and phraseology. It's so important to know what to say, so you don't waste time correcting yourself. You don't have time to correct during the PVs since the traffic load is so great. For living, I'd recommend Kim's. Everyone in my class mostly stayed there and loved it. The compensation is great with the per diem. You're essentially making more as a student at the academy, than you'll make as a grad at your first facility. Hope this helps!

warhawk18561 karma

What do you have to do to become an air traffic controller? Is it an easy field to get into? Is the pay decent (not asking for an exact number just wondering if it makes for a comfortable living)?

Thanks!

antoniouxque2 karma

Hey! It's relatively easy. It's actually ideal timing. The FAA is hiring starting Monday(8th), and will be accepting applications through Sunday the 15th! www.usajobs.gov and search for air traffic control!

The pay is phenomenal, and I'm very comfortable. Hope this helps!

BeneaththeOcean1 karma

Hey thanks for the AMA. I'm a military controller with roughly 3 and half years of experience. Do you work with any prior service ATCs? And if so have you noticed if their phraseology is a little more structured or lax?

Also get me a job with the FAA so I don't have to go work DoD.

antoniouxque1 karma

Hey man you're welcome! I do work with many people that have had military controlling experience! They are experienced and definitely it helps to have a background of phraseology. I haven't seen anything negative in their work ethic what so ever.

Rumor has it the FAA is hiring next week.

BeneaththeOcean1 karma

I'm going to throw in for that bid. How long is your training for the positions?

antoniouxque1 karma

It all depends on your facility. At a level 5, you could be tower certified in 6 months. At a larger facility, could take up to a year and a half. Really just depends on how many trainees are in the facility, and how many trainers to go with it!

Jim1051 karma

Do you hate the TSA?

antoniouxque0 karma

Hate? I love them.

_thefinalfrontier1 karma

How long are you in contact with aircraft? Does it begin at the gate? Until how long after takeoff?

antoniouxque2 karma

From the moment an aircraft taxis, to the point it parks at its destination it's usually always in contact with ATC if it's in controlled airspace and at a controller airport. Ground-tower-departure-center-approach-tower-ground is the typical round robin of who they'll talk to.

Moag141 karma

What was your reaction to the MH370 airplane disappearance?

antoniouxque1 karma

From the start it sounded extremely sketchy. I was hoping it wasn't deliberate, but the way these things happen, it usually always is.

lukeyf881 karma

What's your opinion on the French ATC Strikes?

antoniouxque1 karma

I haven't read about it, but I will and get back to you!

Anablue1 karma

How dangerous is turbulence?

antoniouxque1 karma

It depends on the type of aircraft, and what type of turbulence. If you're in a smaller GA aircraft flying through turbulence in a thunderstorm, I'd start to worry. If you're in a B757 through some clear air turbulence at 35000ft, not too much. Aircraft these days have so much flex in their wings that are meant to handle a lot of stress. Usually when turbulence gets bad, ATC and the pilot will work together to find smoother air at a different altitude though.

LifeisaCatbox1 karma

How much is the average salary? Why type of skills or personality traits should a person have to be able to do well at this job?

Edit: spelling / typo

antoniouxque1 karma

The biggest personality trait that I find important is being humble. You'll have many trainers your entire career, so learn to just accept what they're telling you, and move on. If it contradicts what you've been told in the past, talk to someone about it later, don't confront immediately. Make sure you know when to be assertive, and just have fun with it. ATC is an amazing career, one to be excited about! The average salary, I'd say is around 90k if you average the high and low facility pay.

ironman821 karma

Ever have any encounters with anything unidentified?

antoniouxque3 karma

I have not actually! Radar sometimes picks up random things, but it usually turns out to be a truck that's big enough to be hit by radar.

PolishHeadlock0 karma

How much money do you make?

antoniouxque2 karma

I'd rather not disclose my personal salary, but the scale for a level 5 Air Traffic Facility is as follows: Academy Grad: 44k First Certification: 56K more or less Full Certification: 65-68k more or less

It goes up dramatically as you get to higher level facilities. All Air Traffic Controllers out of the Academy will make the same amount.

malcontented1 karma

At the high end what do people make?

antoniouxque2 karma

I believe the current cap for a Level 12(highest level facility) such as LAX/JFK etc, is 160k with overtime.

YourMumIsSexy0 karma

Did you work on 9/11 and if so what was it like?

antoniouxque3 karma

I did not work during 9/11, but heard plenty of stories, and heard it was one hell of a week. To get that many planes down that fast is a work of art.

somatic0 karma

I've seen both Pushing Tin and Ground Control.

Is the burnout really as bad as these movies make it appear? How much progress -- if any -- has been made in the past two decades in regard to stress levels?

antoniouxque3 karma

Those are both great movies. And to be honest, I've never worked in an approach control environment like it is in Pushing Tin, but from what I've heard from friends that do, it's pretty realistic. Especially at a place like NY Tracon. Technology and better radar has definitely helped as far as keeping track of who is who in the sky, but when you're at a Tower, the only time it gets truly stressful is during inclement weather. Air Traffic Control is unique in that, at lower level facilities, Local control is harder in that you're giving aircraft pattern entries to land, and ground is slower. Higher facilities, Tracon usually lines aircraft up on course to land so you are just clearing aircraft to land and take off, and ground gets complicated with many taxiways.

leclittoris-1 karma

What's stressful about the job? I read somewhere that it is one of the most stressful career paths. You make it seem like it's the best

antoniouxque1 karma

It CAN be very stressful, depending on work load and environmental situations. At a level 12 airport, in foggy conditions, it's EXTREMELY stressful. At a level 5 on a clear day, not so much.

goobytime69-1 karma

Have you ever made a mistake while doing your job?

antoniouxque2 karma

Of course. We all make mistakes. As far as a mistake that puts lives in danger no. I would say the most common mistake calling an aircraft the wrong call sign because of not hearing it right the first transmission.