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Controlling traffic in the sky

Written by More Matshediso

State of the Nation Address

The aviation sector has opened doors for young air traffic controller.

Mokgadi Mkhize (29) is an air traffic controller helping aircraft pilots ensure the safety of passengers when taking off and landing.

Mkhize works for Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC Limited based at OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni.Mokgadi Mkhize works for Air Traffic and Navigation Services, based at the OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni.

This is a dream come true for Mkhize, who joined ATNS as part of the company’s bursary training programme in 2008, training as an air traffic service assistant at the company’s Aviation Training Academy.

“This is what I wanted to do after completing matric. I researched jobs in the aviation industry when I was in Grade 10 and developed great interest in this industry. I knew that I had to pass mathematics, physical science and English very well in order to meet the minimum requirements,” said Mkhize, who grew up in Groblersdal in Limpopo.

After completing matric, she visited ATNS’s website to apply for a job in aviation. Her application was successful and she was invited for an aptitude test and medical examination, to determine if she was a suitable candidate and was admitted into the programme.

Today her day-to-day tasks include air traffic management, monitoring information regarding weather patterns, checking equipment serviceability and communicating with pilots and other air traffic controllers in airports across the country and abroad.

 “I use all the information that I read on the screen to inform, advise and instruct pilots in order for them to transport passengers safely. We communicate with the pilots using two-way radio communication. Safety is our number one priority,” she said.

Pilots need to stay updated about the weather, and they also communicate if there is a need for rerouting, changing of speed, altitude or any hindrances.

In just one hour, there could be approximately 20 aircraft that she has to deal with.

Mkhize encouraged young people to consider jobs in aviation and to research any career they would like to pursue. 

For more information on bursary opportunities at the Air Traffic and Navigation Services log on to www.atns.com