I’ve been making a few trips to the tower recently – it’s always fun to watch the controllers at work and the view from the tower is great! They’ve got a terrace, from which I can take photos and walk all around, so I’ve got a 360 degrees view! The controllers are just a level up from there. It’s always good to see things from the other side – how things work, what they have to deal with, and at the same time we can also share our experiences with them, as pilots.
I went up to the tower at night for the first time a few days ago, on the Sunday. It wasn’t very busy, just a departure and a couple of arrivals – Ryanair, Iberia and a cessna aircraft, but it gave me a chance to spend some time talking with the controller. I only intended on spending half an hour up there but ended up there till the controller’s shift ended, which was 2 hours! He was showing me all the gizmos and gadgets in the tower – their radar screens, how strips work, how they control airport lighting and was told about the new equipment that will be installed soon. They have a fancy touch screen to control every aspect of the airport lighting – taxiways, runway lights, etc. A screen shows them a radar picture of the area around the airport and another screen gives them information on arrivals and departures. Then they have screens giving them a visual representation of the airport lighting and one for weather. Other parts of the setup is quite outdated, however they’re going to install new equipment soon, I was told.
I also shared some of my experiences of interacting with the controllers over the radio and sought out his point of view, from his perspective. A visit to the tower is always an interesting trip. We usually go on a course trip to Seville control centre, but unfortunately that’s not been recently happening for some unknown reason, possibly because they’re very busy (I’m just speculating).