Douglas McMillan

Air Traffic Technician

Air Traffic Technician, Airways New Zealand

In a nutshell: Repairing, maintaining and installing Air Traffic Navigation Systems.

Why? "There's lots of variety and I enjoy all the outside work."

Pathway: Rangiora High School, Final year subjects: Calculus, Electronics, English, Outdoor Education, PE
AUT - Auckland University of Technology: Diploma in Electrotechnology [now replaced by the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Electrical)]

Earning: $50-60,000

At school I enjoyed Technology classes where I learnt useful skills in hard materials and electronics. I spent Year 13 at the International School in Toulouse, France and made a prototype of an ergonomic cell phone, designed and built a chair, and made a short ad for Volkswagen.

I'm a practical sort of person and my father is an engineer for Air New Zealand, then when I was in France I met a New Zealander who fixed aircraft electronic equipment and I was keen on electronics as well as aircraft.

I chose to study for a Diploma in Electrotechnology because it was a practical based course.

As an air traffic technician for Airways New Zealand, I travel to navigation sites all around the South Island. At each site I do general maintenance and installation, and fix faults on different types of equipment. Before handing it back to Air Traffic Control, I do a safety check to confirm that the equipment is operational and safe for pilots and controllers to use.

At polytech we learned how to do tasks, but in the real world there is a lot more at stake. We always have to remember that 'air traffic has to be safe' – that's the main priority.

As well as knowing that I'm contributing to the safety of thousands of people every day, my job is rewarding and enjoyable because there's lots of variety and I get to work outdoors.

To do my job the most important thing is to be practical. But we are encouraged to be innovative where it can improve the efficiency of the way we work.

There's lots of potential for travel when you work in air traffic control. As well as working all around the South Island, I've travelled around Australia installing VHF radios and working with lots of different people.

Airways New Zealand is known around the world for the people we are, the quality and range of the work that we do, and the types of equipment we work on.

Posted May 2012

Follow this pathway:

Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering