top of page

Women in Aviation - Fiji's Air Traffic Controllers

Updated: Mar 6

Air travel is exciting, especially if you are heading back to Fiji on holiday! As the tropical greenery becomes visible and the hot tarmac in Nadi looms large, certain airline passengers have been known to clap for the crew on board flights.


While the aircraft and ground crew certainly deserve our appreciation, have you ever thought of the voice behind the headphones guiding your pilot in? Chances are that your approach into Nadi was handled by one of the thirteen female Air Traffic Controllers (ATCO’s) working in Fiji. These ladies are licensed Air Traffic Controllers who must pass their licence in order to operate in Fiji’s airspace.  


MAUK wanted to shine a spotlight on the important work they do in our Aviation Sector for International Women’s Day 2024 and we hope that by doing so we may get our girls and daughters into the career path these brilliant ladies have taken.




What do Air Traffic Controllers (ATCO) do?


In its simplest forms Controllers give clearances to pilots advising on flight level, speed and time they need to join a track. This is called Air Traffic Management, and it is one of the core businesses of Fiji Airports Limited (FAL). FAL looks after Fiji’s Flight Information Region (FIR). All airspace around the world is divided into FIRs and is managed by a controlling authority which in Fiji’s case is FAL.


Fiji’s airspace covers approximately six million square kilometres, including the sovereign airspace of Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kiribati and Vanuatu. This is a huge airspace for a small Island Nation. In the UK our airspace is divided into three FIRs: London, Scottish and Shanwick Oceanic. Having large airspaces is beneficial to an economy as it currently is the only rapid worldwide transport network which generates economic growth by facilitating international trade and tourism




Our 13 Fijian ladies make up a team of 32 licenced controllers who look after Fiji’s FIR. Aspiring Air Traffic Controllers in Fiji will need to spend an average of 18 months in training after undergoing the interview process with good marks in Maths being a basic requirement. During training they learn about the integrated management of air traffic and airspace through the provision of facilities and seamless services including air traffic services, airspace management and air traffic flow management. Once they complete training, they will have to work for at least three years as Assistants before they get to apply for licencing.


Once they complete their training & licencing, they can join a skilled team who look after the following:


1. Ground Movements Control and Aerodrome Control at Nadi and Nausori airport. They guide an aircraft through take-off and landing.

2. Approach Control and area approach Surveillance Control at Nadi. They diligently monitor radar and surveillance equipment aircraft within a 200 nautical mile radius from Nadi.

3. Oceanic Control also at Nadi. They use the prescribed minima to separate aircraft and their expertise which is essential in ensuring aircraft safety on long-haul international flights that traverse the Pacific Ocean.




These women have all undergone these training and licencing requirements and can serve in Fijis airspace. It is important to note that these women are daughters, wives and mothers who juggle working in a high-pressured environment alongside other roles. They help keep our air spaces safe working shift at the control tower.  


These 13 Fijian women make up 20.6% of the global workforce of ATCO’s according to stats published by the International Civil Aviation (ICAO). They also make up the growing number of women who are part of Women in Aviation International. There has been a push in recent years to encourage more girls to get into aviation as the need for global travel becomes greater. The International Civil Aviation (ICAO) estimates that by 2036 the air transport industry will contribute 15.5million in direct jobs and $US1.5 trillion of GDP to the world economy.




Here at MAUK we encourage our young sisters, daughters, and granddaughters to think outside the box and take up less traditional careers. The career demands of the future dictates that we do so and act now. For us in the UK, the options to do this are possible with apprenticeships, work placements and scholarships available. While these same options may not be available to our daughters in Fiji yet, we hope that in time it will. Recognising the important role of ATCO’s in Fiji’s airspace and the economic potential this sector holds is key to driving the change to be fully inclusive to our girls and women.


We take our hats off to the 13 female air traffic controllers who pushed through barriers to become licenced controllers in Fiji. We may not see you at the tarmac when we land, but sisters we SEE you 😊 To the rest of the assistants who will be looking to obtain their licence this year, we wish you the very best.


Thank you for keeping our air space safe and Happy International Women’s Day!


Sincerely,

MAUK sisters.




Do you fancy a career as an Air Traffic Controller?

 

If this career choice is something you would like to explore, please feel free to look at the resources we have below. Aviation though is a huge sector and it’s not just the controllers like our 13 ladies above who work in the background. The next time you notice trivial things like the shorter lampposts or absence of tall buildings around any airport area- or even the fact that your plane is circling around Heathrow instead of landing, you will have a fair idea of the people who work behind the scenes to get you safely home and we hope that this article will open you up to opportunities in this sector.




Look at the resources below:


  1. Apply as a trainee at the National Air Traffic Services- Trainee Air Traffic Controllers - NATS

 

 

  1. Royal Navy Apprenticeship- Royal Navy | Apprenticeships (mod.uk)

 

647 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page