Air Traffic Controllers Can Ride the Jumpseat Again

View from the MD-88 jumpseat.

Good news for pilots and air traffic controllers. The Department of Homeland Security and the FAA will, once again, allow air traffic controllers to ride in the cockpit jumpseat of airliners. Air traffic control observational rides were a regular thing until 9-11-2001 ended the program. But, why should you care if you don’t fly an airliner?

Why This is Such a Good Thing

The jumpseat program is designed to familiarize air traffic controllers with the duties and workload of pilots. This is good news for all pilots, even if you fly a light sport aircraft or something else on a scale smaller, than, say an Airbus 380. When air traffic controllers can see, firsthand, our flying workload, it gives them a better idea of how to handle us in different phases of flight.

It also gives pilots and controllers a chance to talk to each other about our concerns. Normally, there isn’t time for casual conversation over the radio. You can rest assured, during cruise, pilots and controllers will talk each others’ ears off about air traffic control.

Payback’s a Bit Challenging

Now that controllers will be able to watch what we do, I’m going to suggest we pilots return the favor. Go and visit the nearest, airport tower, Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON,) or, your nearest enroute center. Watch and listen to what air traffic controllers go through when the weather is bad and the traffic density is high. You might be surprised to see how tough those situations are on ATC.

Most importantly, if you don’t fly an airplane with a cockpit jumpseat, make a visit to an ATC facility so you can talk to controllers about your concerns. Air traffic controllers are a great group of hard-working people, and will be happy to talk to you.

Walk a mile in another person’s shoes. It will change your perspective. Don’t you think?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

KERLY COELLO January 24, 2016 at 1:19 am

HI JEFF, PLEASE HELP ME, SEND ME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT
“The jumpseat program ” WHAT AIRLINES PARTICIPATE OR WHERE CAN I READ ABOUT THIS … REALLY APRECIATED

Reply

JeffKanarish January 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Kerly,

All airlines participate in the cockpit orientation program for air traffic controllers.

I don’t know of a written source of information about the program. I’m sure each air traffic control agency has its own information packet for their controllers.

Jeff

Reply

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