Get a rare glimpse into an air traffic controller's work at S'pore Aviation Academy

Mr Martin Pereira is an air traffic controller who is also a course instructor at the Singapore Aviation Academy. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - As part of the Singapore HeritageFest in May, tours will be conducted to allow the public a rare glimpse into the workings of Changi Airport's control tower and how its air traffic controllers are trained.

Among the highlights is a simulator aerodome in Changi, where air traffic controller trainees are put through the paces for 1½ years before they are deemed qualified to take on the mantle of directing pilots who take off and land at Changi Airport.

In this air-conditioned room, multiple screens create a view of the runways at Changi Airport, while flickering monitor screens appear to give real-time updates of plane movements in the country’s airspace.

It is a view associated with Changi Airport's control tower, the conductor of Singapore's bustling airspace.

Within minutes, weather conditions can change from rainy to hazy to sunny, while the sun sets and rises with the flick of a switch.

The simulator was commissioned in 2019 and built to be an exact replica of Changi Tower, from the external view to the tower layout.

The building where it is located is the Singapore Aviation Academy, the training arm of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore which has trained aviation workers for more than 60 years.

It is the first time the academy is participating in the festival, which this year focuses on the country's travel and natural heritage.

The academy will showcase people who keep air travel safe, including air traffic controllers and airport firefighters.

Participants who join the air traffic control tour can experience how trainees are taught in the simulator. They also get simulations of day and night views, as well as of different types of weather and scenarios, as seen from the control tower.

Those joining the firefighting tour will get a chance to "save" a casualty and sit in a firefighting vehicle.

Both tours are free and will be held on May 7 and 14.

Mr Martin Pereira, 53, is an air traffic controller who is also a course instructor at the academy. He made a career switch from spinning music records 28 years ago, when he was 25.

He said he finds the job as stimulating as he did when he started.

"Each day is different," he said. "You get to apply the skills that you learn to a different situation every day, and you learn how to adapt and adjust - this is what makes it really exciting."

He will lead one of the tours during the Singapore HeritageFest.

"(On the tour), you will be able to see our people, how passionate they are in their work," he said. "That is the greatest heritage that the academy has."

To sign up for the tours, go to this website.

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