Training Broome’s air-traffic control tower staff in an Australian-first, state-of-the-art system was the biggest challenge in Tony Carter’s career – and it earned him a prestigious national title.
Mr Carter was one of three controllers this year to receive Air services Australia’s national title of Air Traffic Controller of the Year for going above and beyond the normal call of duty.
It’s a fitting way to finish a two year stint in Broome, where Mr Carter had been a second-in-charge under long-term colleague, unit tower supervisor John Ruttiman. During this time he was instrumental in the changeover from the old air-traffic control tower to Air services Australia’s new $20 million multipurpose facility, housing both the aviation fire fighting team and the new tower.
When timing allowed for Broome’s new tower to be the first in Australia to have the new Intas system installed, Mr Carter went to Melbourne to be trained in the system. He returned to Broome for a busy seven months, passing on the training to fellow staff.
In recognition of his long hours and dedication to the project, his team nominated him for the award.
In his 12-year career, Mr Carter has seen his fair share of stressful situations, but said it was a job worth doing and being proud of.
“The important thing is being an anchor for each pilot,” he said.
“I’ve been in a couple of situations, and the first time they call, they are nervous, but you’re calm, giving all the assistance and information you can, and then they’re fine.
"It’s challenging…but rewarding.
We very rarely see the same scenario – it’s never boring, and at the end of the day I feel good about what I’ve done.”
Mr Carter said to be an air-traffic controller, a person would need good results at school in standard subjects like maths and English, and then go onto a one-year diploma course, before continuing to train at airports country-wide.
“It’s very much based on spatial awareness, and good understanding of maths helps, being able to work on the fly and sometimes under pressure with maths,” he said.
Mr Carter said each airport was different – either a procedural tower like Broome, a radar tower like Brisbane or Melbourne, or a metro D tower like Archfield or Jandakot – and every posting gave a controller a fuller knowledge.
Mr Carter is heading to Brisbane, where he hopes to enjoy a “bit of a break” from the new Intas system – as Broome was the first of just four Australian towers to have it installed in the shorter term.
He said he had immensely enjoyed working at the Broome tower, with his colleagues and Broome International Airport community.