Ottawa

A look inside the Ottawa air traffic control centre

The last two weeks of winter storms, freezing rain and bone-chilling temperatures have slowed operations at the Ottawa International Airport, but the action never stops in the control tower.

'The view is amazing, you can't beat it anywhere in Ottawa'

Charles Roberts scans the Ottawa International Airport from the air traffic control tower. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

The last two weeks of winter storms, freezing rain and bone-chilling temperatures have slowed operations at the Ottawa International Airport, but the action never stops in the control tower.

Air traffic controller Suzanne Léger said even on a day with a lot of cancellations, everyone stays focused.  

"You can see everybody is looking outside and doing what they need to do. Even when it is not busy, it is very focused here," she said.  

Despite the challenges, she said she loves the job.

"The view is amazing, you can't beat it anywhere in Ottawa," she said.

"The work environment is really relaxed considering what we do."

They work high up in a tower at the Ottawa International Airport scanning the skies and their instruments for airplanes. A behind-the-scenes look at air traffic controllers. 9:23

Challenging job 

Charles Roberts comes from a family in aviation and initially wanted to be a commercial pilot.

But he was approached to consider a career in the tower instead of the air, and he took it.

He said he likes the challenge it brings.

"That is the thing about the job, every day is different," he said.

The Ottawa tower, which is managed by Nav Canada, has a vast array of technology to handle all of the planes within 11 kilometres of the airport.

A view of the equipment used to track aircraft from the Ottawa International Airport's air traffic control centre. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

But Roberts said they still rely on binoculars and the panoramic views from the tower.  

"We use all the tools that we have. When you work in a tower you are using your eyes."

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