Working as an air traffic controller in a busy airport like Delhi is easily one of the toughest jobs in the world. More so if the fear of the chair breaking down and falling flat on the ground haunts you all the time.
This is exactly what the air traffic control officials (ATCO) at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport have been facing for the past many months.
The chairs at the air traffic control tower of the airport are in a dilapidated state and there have been many instances in the past when ATCOs have abruptly fallen from their seats while instructing pilots landing or taking off from the runway.
“Our job is a high stress one where one small gaffe could mean risking the lives of hundreds of people. The least we can expect is a comfortable working condition,” said a senior ATCO, who didn’t give his name, as he isn’t authorised to talk to the media.
“Recently a colleague sitting next to me suddenly fell when his chair gave way while he was talking to a pilot on the radio. Now I can’t sit on my chair comfortably anymore,” he said.
The chairs used by the ATCOs are not just any chairs. These are special chairs made ergonomically keeping in mind the work profile of an ATCO.
“The chairs are meant for people sitting at a position for long hours. It has a slanted back with a comfortable back rest and a neck rest too,” he said. “The chairs go through a lot of wear and tear as they are used 24X7.”
There are around 200 ATCOs working at the Delhi ATC on different shifts. They claim their chairs haven’t been replaced in a long time and they have recently sent a petition to the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which manages all civil air traffic in the country.
The petition seems to have worked. An AAI spokesman claimed that they have now replaced all chairs in the ATC tower. “We had given an order to a company to replace all the chairs. The new chairs are already being used,” he said.