NATS careers
Employee profile - Aidan - Air Traffic Controller Watch Manager, Cardiff Airport

Nats 17 Image 4'The weather was fine today so my shift is likely to be quite busy. When you’re working hard you know you’re doing your best to help everyone in the air. That’s what makes it interesting.

My shift started at noon, so I was able to spend a couple of hours in the gym first. At the Tower, I made a cup of tea before briefing myself on the current situation. Although I am a Deputy Watch Manager, I won’t be managing the Watch today, so I’ll be operating as a Controller for the shift.

I started controlling aircraft at 12:00, handling low level military aircraft on the radar. It’s one of the busier shifts. The traffic is varied and includes military fast jets like Tornadoes and Hawks. We handle St Athan radar approach, as well as Cardiff, and also traffic in part of Swanwick’s delegated western airspace.

It’s pretty much non-stop for two hours with a mix of general aviation and military: the very slow and the very fast. The airspace is quite congested and it’s difficult to consistently speak to all the pilots. After a break then, at 15:00, I’m in approach radar control – guiding aircraft into the airport on radar and working the Swanwick delegated western airspace.

It’s a bit quieter now and I’m here for 90 minutes, followed by another break. I’m in the visual control room, with a great view over the airfield and across the Bristol Channel. My job now is to guide the aircraft visually on the final stages of their flight into the airport.

Most of our flights come back between 18:30 and 19:30 in the evening; one of the busiest tower periods of the day. After I finish my shift at 20:00, I’m meeting a friend from home – Ipswich – who’s in Cardiff on business. When I don’t have visitors, I often go out with someone from the unit, work on home improvements or go to the gym. We do two mornings, two afternoons and then either two day shifts or two night shifts with four days off, enough to go away for a decent break, which is fantastic.'