Meet Afghanistan’s First Air Traffic Controllers
(This story was written and contributed by U.S. Army MC3 Jeffrey Richardson.)
KABUL (BNO NEWS) — Sitting at their stations inside the control tower, Gh Masoom Masoomi and Milad Hazrati wait for an inbound flight to touchdown at Kabul International Airport (KAIA).
In nearly any other country this would not be significant — but in Afghanistan it’s a sign of progress. Masoomi and Hazrati are the first fully-qualified Afghan air traffic controllers in the country.
“It’s very important for us because we are the first in Afghanistan,” said Masoomi. “We are the first ones to get a license. It took me almost five years from the time I started school.”
Masoomi and Hazrati were able to learn the “in’s and out’s” of their profession, but not without some difficulty.
The Afghan government, in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) developed an advanced program that allowed on-the-job training to further their skills. When they completed their advanced training, ISAF offered both controllers jobs at the KAIA control tower.
The two are responsible for controlling aircraft in the air and on the ground.
“ISAF is here to help the government and help Afghans to take over the responsibility to stand on their own feet, and now we are part of that mission — we are very proud,” said Hazrati.
The two controllers coordinate an average of 10,200 flights, both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, each month.
“I like the job, it’s really fun,” said Hazrati. “Working as an air traffic controller is unique in Afghanistan.”
Following in their footsteps, more Afghans have shown an interest and have begun training as well.
“Because we are proud to be the first air traffic controllers we want to pave the way for others,” said Masoomi. “It will be very good for us as a country and we would really like to do that.”
“The more you work the better experience you get and we can share our experience with other Afghans,” said Hazrati.
Currently, five other Afghans are in training. If the current level of interest continues, Afghanistan will soon have a surplus of fully-qualified Afghan air traffic controllers working in their towers — and following in the footsteps of Masoomi and Hazrati.