How Air Traffic Control Works

  • Published on Jun 18, 2019
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    Animation by Josh Sherrington
    Sound by Graham Haerther (
    Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster
    Special thanks to Patreon supporters Adam Chelminski, Arkadiy Kulev, Charles Zilinski, Chris Allen, Connor J Smith, Daddy Donald, Etienne Dechamps, Eyal Matsliah, Hank Green, John & Becki Johnston, Kyle, MyNameIsKir, Plinio Correa, Qui Le, Remi_Scarlet, Tom Dooner, Tyler Hamm, and Vaughn Mudrick
    Music by
    Select footage courtesy the AP Archive

Comments • 2 110

  • Wendover Productions
    Wendover Productions  3 months ago +1228

    Hey all, so in case you didn't see the announcement video, we launched a new scripted podcast last Wednesday called Extremities. It's all about why and how people live in earth's most isolated and extreme settlements.
    In season one, we tell the story of Pitcairn Island--a small British territory in the South Pacific with just 50 people. It's 300 miles/500 kilometers away from the nearest other inhabited place, 3000 miles/5000 kilometers away from the nearest city, and 10,000 miles/16,000 kilometers away from its capital city in London. The twist and turns that Pitcairn takes through history and the explanation of why and how Pitcairn still exists today are fascinating, in my biased opinion.
    Episode 1 is out now, episode 2 comes out tomorrow, and I'd love it if you'd give it a listen. Extremities is available at the following places:
    Apple Podcasts:
    Google Podcasts:
    Pocket Casts:
    I hope you enjoy!

    • bootfan !!
      bootfan !! Month ago

      4:35 Your INCORRECT GRAPHIC does not match with the spoken words. The graphic shows "24,500 ft". Please correct your graphic.

    • Khalid Bin Walid
      Khalid Bin Walid 2 months ago

      Your name is not Wendover?? My whole life...

    • Effah Osei
      Effah Osei 2 months ago

      Wendover Productions wee

    • Anmol Dani
      Anmol Dani 2 months ago


  • Major Kong
    Major Kong 2 days ago

    Ahh, the French strike again!

  • 47ambrose42jpm
    47ambrose42jpm 5 days ago

    How does one become an ATC person?

  • Tom Donnelly
    Tom Donnelly 7 days ago

    This would have been a lot more interesting if it had been about US airspace rather than European airspace.

  • unknown unknown
    unknown unknown 12 days ago

    Today schedule 1615 to 2115

  • Jeff Ray
    Jeff Ray 14 days ago

    Nose to tail aircraft noise morning noon and night over Calderdale, has someone blown their top ? 😂🔥

  • Ibirdball
    Ibirdball 17 days ago +3

    2:42 Funny you show that area with EGSH, that's my local airport! However sometimes flights to the Middle East out of Manchester or from America do come over that area.

  • Andrew
    Andrew 17 days ago

    Wonder if I could get a Visa to go work at eurocontrol

  • John Daltrocanto
    John Daltrocanto 18 days ago

    You really butchered that Italian name

  • DaRobo
    DaRobo 22 days ago

    I regret checking if checklistmas{ was actually taken.

  • Neurofied Yamato
    Neurofied Yamato 23 days ago

    Wow cool, you actually went to eurocontrol.

  • badlandskid
    badlandskid 23 days ago +1

    Twenty flights daily equals more than one an hour? Must be on metric time in Europe.

  • UConnhuskyandrewnduati

    This is probably my favorite video ever, like Wendover Productions, Half as Interesting, RU-clip, Netflix, Hulu, any*fucking*thing ever.

  • Shadowwolf TD5000
    Shadowwolf TD5000 24 days ago

    2:38 There's also an RAF base there

  • Incorrigible Panda
    Incorrigible Panda 25 days ago +1

    Step 1: raise ATC wages.
    Seriously, how much could it cost to pay that small group of highly talented individuals enough to not strike.

    • Geometrical Gamer
      Geometrical Gamer 15 days ago

      It really depends on where the ATCs are working. In my area they get paid 100,000+

  • NadChel1
    NadChel1 25 days ago

    The seventh reference is just a search result

  • Scooty789
    Scooty789 29 days ago +1

    seems like a nice job worth pursuing

  • Oliver Gray
    Oliver Gray Month ago

    I work for a European airline as cabin crew and pretty much everyday we get ATC slots causing us delays! Especially over summer as norther Europe airspace is mad!

  • Shanghao Zhong
    Shanghao Zhong Month ago

    ATC would be one of the most complicated work in the world

    • Alex
      Alex Month ago

      Good pay though

  • YoBanana
    YoBanana Month ago

    Thought this was Captian Joe.

  • Nathan Gehman
    Nathan Gehman Month ago

    1: 37 Man, they have NICE chairs!

  • JP Labs
    JP Labs Month ago

    I like how a Dutch control centre controls Belgian airspace......

  • funkyleah
    funkyleah Month ago

    Fake! It’s like ATC in Microsoft flight simulator steam edition

    • Michael Hall
      Michael Hall Month ago

      Looks like a Traffic Management facility.

  • GopzU
    GopzU Month ago

    12:30 my dream place to work

  • Amaral Monteiro
    Amaral Monteiro Month ago

    Ágora tou na Madeira. Muito giro.❤

  • A Throbbing Peanuts
    A Throbbing Peanuts Month ago +1

    Can't wait for the moment all these human "controllers" are replaced by AI

    • Michael Hall
      Michael Hall Month ago

      Spoken like someone who doesn't understand the job. When you can put 135 (I had about 95 of those) airplanes on 4 runways in an hour then maybe you can voice an intelligent opinion. There is no IA that could have kept up with that hour! BTW, using EuroControl is probably not a good example of volume. Try the busier FAA ATC facilities. We rarely limited flights based on staffing. Volume goes up and we just work harder/smarter.

  • Aaron Seet
    Aaron Seet Month ago

    In this day and generation, I'd have expected ATC software be able to render flights (with their projected vectors) and terrain in 3D perspective to give them better visualisation of separation or impending danger.

  • Theron Kolokwe
    Theron Kolokwe Month ago +1

    Hey Wendover Production. Just out of curiosity; is it your own crew that conducted the interview with that directors? If yes, you have made it in life.

  • ชุติกาญจน์ ศรีประไหม

    Love the videos. Hate the B.S. Falun Gong "Epoch Times" fascist propaganda advertising you apparently accept.

  • the hunter
    the hunter Month ago

    I don't need sleep
    I need answers

  • 习近平和毛泽东都是怪物

    you guys really do a kick ass job. the interviews were really great, worth your extra effort

  • Anna Orzechowicz
    Anna Orzechowicz Month ago

    Can you explain the logistics of how they know what fire trucks go to each incident? I never know what station they're all coming from, and i figured that'd be a Wendover type of video!

  • christian legaspi
    christian legaspi Month ago

    If a baby is born on an airplane what citizenship does the baby have

  • Glimpse Pedroza
    Glimpse Pedroza Month ago

    I understand. But sigh! Its complicated

  • Marc Pagan
    Marc Pagan Month ago +1

    Not fun fact:
    Obama was quota hiring Air Traffic Controllers. Putting me, my student pilots, and the public at risk.
    When Trump was told...he immediately ended this racist and dangerous practice.

    The Leftist media...which even slammed Trump for "misfeeding goldfish" in Japan....said not a word.
    Try defending "How not White or not Asian are you?" as a job qualifier.
    Especially for a job where lives are at risk.

    • Michael Hall
      Michael Hall Month ago

      As an ATC I had to train these hires. They had NO idea what real ATC entailed. It is very difficult to teach someone to think 3-dimensionally. Instead of having a limited amount of hours to certify (check-out), the FAA instituted "train to succeed." We called it train to suck!

  • Kami Kami
    Kami Kami Month ago

    Thank you so much for such a amazing , excellent & useful information

  • Abas Abertas
    Abas Abertas Month ago

    I passed the exam to become a military Air traffic controller. But I went to college and instead.

  • Karen Kramer
    Karen Kramer Month ago

    Seems so complicated. Can't believe there aren't more crashes.

  • Cedar W
    Cedar W Month ago

    1:10 looks like mission control in houston!!

  • T Bjornsson
    T Bjornsson Month ago

    I think the video should be titled 'How Air Traffic Control Works in Europe'

  • Alex's Flight Channel

    Ooh 15 minutes long

  • Smogy 001
    Smogy 001 Month ago

    Wait, this is like HAI but without questionable jokes?! Who tf needs this?

  • Martin Astiba
    Martin Astiba Month ago +2

    650 take offs daily. One day 24 hrs or 86400 sec
    How does this translate to One Aircraft every 45 sec???

    • Martin Astiba
      Martin Astiba Month ago

      @Mango2308 Thanks for that piece of info. Seems I had inadvertently missed it. Regards

    • Mango2308
      Mango2308 Month ago +1

      Martin Astiba The flights operate from 6am to 1130pm

  • Michael Hall
    Michael Hall Month ago

    34 years U.S. ATC. I retired from the world's busiest facility handling about 2.1 million operations yearly. '''Twas a FANTASTIC career!!!

  • flanker
    flanker Month ago

    Not an expert at aviation but it sounds like except for crisis management, rest of the ATC's job is a prime candidate for automation.

    • Michael Hall
      Michael Hall Month ago

      flanker: Nope. There has been an ATC program available for 30 years that is I'm aware. We tried the latest and greatest at LAX almost 20 years ago. It failed miserably as the computer couldn't keep up with the constantly changing conditions. It also had trouble "thinking" 3-dimensionally; which some people never understand. Besides, do you want a computer programmer flying and controlling your aircraft? Gravity is a cruel teacher.

  • Christofer Riche
    Christofer Riche Month ago

    Too many people required to handle just One flight

    • Christofer Riche
      Christofer Riche Month ago

      @Michael Hall : so there's Not enough runways?! (one) would think that with long runways & All those taxi' ways, there would be enough space. It seems as though there are Too many planes & to many ppl flying out waiting to fly at once. I think the "entire" aviation system is outdated. ¶ Back n the late 80s early 90's I remember being at a hotel near DFW int'l. It was at night. I remember looking out the hotel window & seeing the landing lights of the aircraft in a lite fog, as (they) continuously approached just (1) runway, about 45 secs apart. I couldn't believe there were That many! I'm guessing today is Even Worse.

    • Michael Hall
      Michael Hall Month ago +1

      Christofer Riche: Not when the 3-dimensional variables are factored in. Besides, the issue isn't airspace as much as it's available concrete.

  • Christofer Riche
    Christofer Riche Month ago

    Too Many "hand offs".

  • Christofer Riche
    Christofer Riche Month ago

    Too Many planes flying at once too often.

  • Christofer Riche
    Christofer Riche Month ago

    The complexity of opn for 1 plane is outrageous! No wonder it's so frustrating & stressful! I don't see how they do it! The ops might as well be at least semi automated if not fully.

  • Pradeep Rawat
    Pradeep Rawat Month ago


  • Pradeep Rawat
    Pradeep Rawat Month ago


  • J-Luc Genoud
    J-Luc Genoud Month ago

    They do it in the dark!

  • John Smith
    John Smith Month ago

    French people be like duhhhhhhhhhhhhh we handle duhhhhhhhhhhhhh 1500 flights a day duhhhhhh

  • Kenneth Thomas
    Kenneth Thomas Month ago +1

    Well done guys. You managed to capture something rather complex in an easily understandable way. Brgds, Ken

  • CiaTheVideoStalker
    CiaTheVideoStalker Month ago

    Shoutout to my dad at 9:00 !

  • Yat Sum Leung
    Yat Sum Leung 2 months ago

    Notice the TV screen broadcasting, well, TV programs. Many control centers in airlines, ATC, or even government and electricity grid control centers make need to make immediate plans if there are breaking news on the TV which would otherwise change their system requirements.

  • ash king
    ash king 2 months ago

    so this is how you BREXIT!

  • MrChaos2peace
    MrChaos2peace 2 months ago

    i now have a fear, like if the pilot forgets to report in to the controller and is travelling in the blind. How does that get solved? Do aircrafts auto report after a timeout?

  • Pablo Suarez
    Pablo Suarez 2 months ago

    Yisus content quality his HIGH! Keep up the good job.

  • Diego Gonzalez
    Diego Gonzalez 2 months ago

    2:59 the controller is very busy taking boogers out of his nose.