Jobs in travel
ADY DOLAN HAS ONE OF THE BEST
VIEWS OF WEST LONDON. Perched 87 metres up above Heathrow Airport in the control tower, he has a perfect 360-degree vista, from skyscrapers in the east to Windsor Castle in the west.
A senior air traffic control officer (ATCO), Ady oversees the world's busiest tworunway airport. Every day, he and his colleagues preside over around 1,350 aeroplanes landing or taking off.
Ady and ten or so staff sit inside the tower, surrounded by glass windows. Each ATCO has around half a dozen screens to monitor, as well as the runways and sky.
With a healthy salary (senior controllers can earn north of £100,000), it’s no surprise that there are 6,000 applications for jobs every year. Skills required include spatial reasoning, teamwork and quick decisions under pressure. Successful applicants come from all walks of life. “It’s a job you either can or can’t do,” says Ady.
During Ady’s 18-year watch, there has never been a fatal accident at Heathrow. The nearest miss was in 2008 when a Boeing 777 suffered an engine failure and landed short of the runway. The ATCO presiding over that flight was given an award by the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Even during incidents like this, the ATCOs remain cool, calm and collected. Is there nothing at all that fazes them?
“The things that stress me out are the everyday decisions at home,” says Ady. “Simple things like, ‘What shall we have for dinner?‘ That’s what I struggle with.”
Ady Dolan, air traffic control officer