NAV CANADA is a private, non-for-profit corporation that operates Canada’s air traffic control and civil air navigation system under the auspices of the Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act, founded in 1996, working with aviation stakeholders and partners to build a company wide culture of safety.
When flying 30,000 feet in the air you want to ensure the safety is maintained returning to the ground. Yes, honour is due to the pilot, but the biggest factor that determines life and death can be summed up in one word; communication.
High up in the radio tower of the airport grounds are workers under the NAV CANADA corporation referred to as Flight Service Specialists (FSS) who guide and direct all pilots to the destination, safely.
When the call is given that flights are arriving, the FSS may have only seconds to make it to the proper post and give immediate reports. You would think most the work is automated, but in reality the computers only give certain stats, when the controls are left in their hands manually.
“95% of our job is in traffic” Says the Operational Supervisor; Colin Lowen, who has worked at this facility for 16 years “The secondary part of our job is hourly weather observation. Every hour you log the cloud status” Colin goes on to explain the tedious pieces pertaining to the job, where even what you might expect to be automated is actually manual control, such as the lights on the night time runway. The correct one must be lit up at the right time for a specific departing or arriving flight.
A job as advanced as this we may think its untouchable for the consumer, when in reality they are currently seeking for interest of those who want to hold the World on their shoulders and apply. The attainable requirements are mainly a 1 year commitment of the applicant so they can go through the required training and have onsite experience.
Gareth Murison; a recently qualified FSS expressed his challenging, yet greatly rewarding process in successfully completing “The training program and qualifying is very, very challenging. But when you do it’s worth it”. Gareth went on to explain the pacing of the job and how addicting the thrill is when you have a split second to make coordinating information between each pilot, airline and the given stats smoothly, promptly and organized.
“The satisfaction of doing a good job. When you kill it with a bunch of planes and it’s just super efficient” Stated AjaySiby; a current trainee who had already dedicated only 7 months in training and was already proven capable of on site training for the last 3.
Between the rush of flights there is also commonly waiting periods like a ‘peace before the storm’. In these moments there’s provided enjoyments such as a kitchen & BBQ area, a full workout gym, and a TV. lounge. Each station is worked around a two hour rotation between trafficking flights, logging the weather and time off in the break rooms thought the day.
Under the protection of NAV CANADA the Thompson Regional Airport track record shows that no emergencies have occurred in an incredibly long time. Not only because of the precise training, but because the rotation of new employee’s are little to none “I have never seen anybody quit and leave for a different job” Colin affirmed “Every single day has the time where it goes from 0-100 and that’s the excitement”
For those interested you can apply online at NAVCANADA.ca where you can possibly be the ear in the air, working along side a trusted team keeping the lives of the community safe.
~Matthias J. Johnson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Thompson Citizen. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.