Servicios y Estudios para la Navegación Aérea y la Seguridad Aeronáutica S.M.E. M.P. S.A.
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Madrid, July 19th, 2023


Carlos Cavero, president of the Spanish Professional Association of Air Traffic Controllers (APROCTA) since 2016, trained as air traffic controller at SENASA more than 20 years ago. Carlos Cavero has developed his professional career in air traffic control centres in Madrid and Barcelona, not only as an en-route and approach controller, but also as an instructor and currently supervisor at ACC Madrid. He is also a member of Eurocontrol's list of judicial experts.


How do you remember your time at SENASA as an Air Traffic Control student? What was the biggest impression on you from that time, apart from the technical training?


It has been a long time since I completed my air traffic controller training at SENASA and I still remember the enthusiasm with which I embarked on that stage to discover in more detail and train in what was going to be my profession in the future. Undoubtedly, leaving aside the technical training, what marked me the most were the close bonds of camaraderie and friendship that are created between classmates. It is still a bond that remains to this day.


The profession of air traffic controller is seen as exciting, vocational, but many people who consider this career path sometimes arrive by chance. What can the sector do to attract new talent to this career? What can we say about the profession so that young people who are now considering their studies will consider this option as a career path?


The profession of air traffic controller is, in fact, relatively unknown to a large part of society beyond a few clichés taken from films and which, on many occasions, have little to do with the reality. Therefore, it is normal that there are a significant number of colleagues who have come to this profession somewhat by chance. Undoubtedly, the best way to attract new talent is to make an effort to spread the word about what we do through talks, meetings, facilitating visits to schools and offices...


Our work is dynamic and demanding in its performance, of course, and requires specific skills and solid training. It also provides a collaborative working environment, in a team that, in addition to other air traffic controllers, includes pilots, technicians and other essential professionals so that an environment as important as air transport continues to provide all its added value to society. Ultimately, our mission is very much about looking after people and their fundamental right to move freely and safely.


The development of new technologies and the irruption of AI will be part of the future of air traffic control. In addition to all the skills required by the profession, what would you recommend to future air traffic controllers to be better prepared for these scenarios?


The profession of air traffic controller is part of an eminently technological environment. AI will certainly play an important role in its evolution, but I would like to point out that, in addition to technological developments, the human factor will continue to play a key role and should by no means be put on the sideline. That being said, the best recommendation with this respect to my future colleagues is that they should be prepared for a changing, constantly evolving work environment, always keeping their learning and adaptability capacities high in order to acquire and improve new skills.


Any advice for students who have recently graduated as air traffic controllers?


By now, I am sure they already have a pretty good idea of the profession they are looking forward to is like. So, I don't think I am going to reveal anything new here. But I would like to stress that this ab initio training process is only the first step towards becoming an air traffic controller. Once they join their assigned unit, they will have to complete the corresponding unit training phases. Therefore, the training process continues, and my advice to them is to keep the enthusiasm that has brought them here and to face not only the unit training phase but also their future professional performance with that desire to learn and to always give the best of themselves. It will pay off.


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