Story by Cpl Micha Pierce on 06/17/2019What is Air Traffic Control?
Air Traffic Control plays a pivotal part in maintaining and overseeing the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic operating within a specific airspace. Under the constant threat of disaster, air traffic controllers work around the clock observing air and ground operations on the flight line, as well as monitoring airspace and aircraft in flight.
"The majority of all air traffic in eastern North Carolina is at one point or another in contact with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point's Air Traffic Control tower," said Lance Cpl. Joseph Mihalko, an Air Traffic Control trainee. "Most Marines deploying out of the east coast fly out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Here at Air Traffic Control, we are responsible for the safe movement of the aircraft off the flight line."
Using radars and radios from the tower, air traffic controllers direct pilots to help them maintain altitude, speed, and position.
"We keep aircraft on their flight path as well as assist pilots in training and overall mission success," said Sgt. Maxwell Lundgren, an ATC crew platoon sergeant.
According to the FAA's guidelines on air traffic control, FAA Order 7110.65X "the primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision involving aircraft operating in the system." Airspace is broken into four different categories; controlled airspace, where aircraft entering and exiting that system are under a specific ATC crew's airspace; uncontrolled airspace, which is airspace that is not under direct control of an ATC service; special use airspace, an area that is restricted for certain aircraft operations; and other airspace areas that are designated by the FAA as areas of airspace that do not fit the definitions of the classes of airspace above.
"We separate aircraft operating in our airspace and vehicles moving about the airfield to minimize accidents that could potentially lead to loss of life or limb." said Cpl. Alexander Brawn an ATC tower supervisor.
Air Traffic Control is an essential part of the Marine Corps' operational mission, ensuring our military personnel and civilians leave the flight line safely and return to lead another day.