Are all controllers based in airport control towers?
Most controllers work at our two ‘area control centres’ at Swanwick in Hampshire, and Prestwick in Ayrshire. They take care of the en route stage of the flight, using radar to keep aircraft safely separated and giving them the most efficient route to their destination. Area controllers are in constant radio contact with pilots, directing flights through their particular airspace sector and tracking the aircraft’s exact position using radar and the latest computer technology. Approach controllers take over contact with the pilots as their flights approach the destination airport. They guide and sequence aircraft into the most efficient order for landing, and provide information to aircraft so they can link up with the ILS – a ground-based radio-signal guidance system for aircraft to make automatic landings, even in very poor visibility. As aircraft make their final approach to the runway, contact is then passed to the aerodrome controllers in the airport’s control tower who guide them to a safe landing. At very busy airports, they also man ground control positions to guide the aircraft safely to its stand once it has landed and taxied off the runway. Departing aircraft also receive this same service.