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Emergency calls rare in air traffic control

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Yesterday,  the media reported a situation where an air traffic controller was called in for work on the night between Saturday and Sunday so that important equipment could be delivered to a sick child by airplane from Stockholm. Oulu Airport has no nightly air traffic on the weekends, which is why air traffic control was closed.  

However, the deputy chief air traffic controller of Oulu was called in urgently.  

“Similar situations of having to call an air traffic controller in for work in the middle of the night are extremely rare.  On the other hand, about 10 to 15 planned emergency flights take place each year at network airports. In cases of organ transplants for instance, we can plan the situation a little more thoroughly,” says Senior Vice President (COO) Heikki Isomaa from ANS Finland.

Duties of an air traffic controller in an emergency

In an emergency situation, the air traffic controller arrives at their workstation at the airport and carries out the usual opening measures of air traffic control.

The measures include coordination with the Area Control Centre (ACC) and Air Traffic Control Center (ATCC) to ensure surveillance of the airspace surrounding the airport. In addition, maintenance and rescue personnel should be present at the airport to cooperate with the air traffic control in checking that the runway is operational.

“We are extremely glad that the vital equipment was delivered on time to help little Sulo, who had become ill,” says Isomaa.