How Air Traffic Control Works

  • Published: 18 June 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 • 2 136

  • Wendover Productions
    Wendover Productions   5 months back

    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:
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    I hope you enjoy!

    • bootfan !!
      bootfan !!  4 months back

      4:35 Your INCORRECT GRAPHIC does not match with the spoken words. The graphic shows "<24,500 ft" or LESS THAN 24,500 while the spoken words describe Maastricht air control in control of traffic GREATER THAN 24,500 ft. The correct graphic would be ">24,500 ft". Please correct your graphic.

    • Khalid Bin Walid
      Khalid Bin Walid  4 months back

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

    • Effah Osei
      Effah Osei  4 months back

      Wendover Productions wee

    • Anmol Dani
      Anmol Dani  4 months back


  • Ege Bilgin
    Ege Bilgin  2 days back

    London - Frankfurt uhm?
    Wonder how Eurocontrol want to control flights after Brexit !?

    • Gillian Cockroft
      Gillian Cockroft  3 days back

      Ait traffic corruption more like.🛫🛬

      • Randy Mack
        Randy Mack  4 days back

        10:37 RIP

        • Bald Guy Flies Planes
          Bald Guy Flies Planes  6 days back

          All the thumbs down are those who didn’t get the domain they wanted. Great video, keep them coming!

          • You are breathing
            You are breathing  1 weeks back

            Great. This is another thing I'll think about when I'm flying in an airplane. I hope I won't have anxiety over thinking this.

            • Dominic Johnson
              Dominic Johnson  2 weeks back

              This is amazing

              • John Ramirez
                John Ramirez  3 weeks back

                Thank you for answering the question i have in my mind.

                • Mathew Kurland
                  Mathew Kurland  3 weeks back

                  Lol, flight level 245 in the US means your at 245,000 feet

                  • Someonewhodoesntuploadanymore

                    7:50 5 nanometers seems a bit close to me...

                    • GaryNumeroUno
                      GaryNumeroUno  3 weeks back

                      Short of controllers!!! Have they thought of advertising for new ones? At least they don't have to worry about the Thomas Cook flights anymore!

                      • flx51
                        flx51  3 weeks back

                        10:35 Never mind no more :c

                        • 4HEad
                          4HEad  4 weeks back

                          belgian and dutch people when he says Maastricht: TRIGGERED

                          • Ashok Naik
                            Ashok Naik  4 weeks back

                            Hlo sir .ur explanation is good nd understanding I need some topics onair traffic control for a mini project.

                            • Wai Ki Yuen
                              Wai Ki Yuen  1 months back

                              Thank you for making our professor’s life easier. She literally just play this video in lecture. What the fuck.

                              • joseph lemons
                                joseph lemons  1 months back

                                RIP THOMAS COOK AIRLINES

                                • Kim Lau
                                  Kim Lau  1 months back

                                  Did you just go to Brussel and did an interview???

                                  • Luke Thompson
                                    Luke Thompson  1 months back

                                    *this is a Thomas Cook flight*


                                    • yakikadafi
                                      yakikadafi  1 months back

                                      I'm an air traffic controller in Australia and here the minimum horizontal separation is 2000 feet!

                                      • fobpower88
                                        fobpower88  1 months back

                                        RIP Thomas Cook 10:37

                                        • Samuele
                                          Samuele  1 months back

                                          Prissinotti orgoglio italiano porcoddio!

                                          • JOHN RICHARDSON
                                            JOHN RICHARDSON  1 months back

                                            At times the planes are spaced in such a way that their airstreams eventually widen and merge with the one next to it resulting in a thin but
                                            total cloud cover. One can imagine that the area trees hate those days.

                                            • Alina Vinnytsia
                                              Alina Vinnytsia  1 months back

                                              *EU control comfortable

                                              Holidays: I'm gonna end this man's whole career

                                              • Brian Beard
                                                Brian Beard  1 months back

                                                So where is the US ATC video? Its different over here.

                                                • Ehab Mheibes
                                                  Ehab Mheibes  1 months back

                                                  somebody answer the phone! :p

                                                  • Frat Peker
                                                    Frat Peker  1 months back

                                                    Poor Thomas Cook flight

                                                    • Chuk Wow
                                                      Chuk Wow  1 months back

                                                      Sorry, this robovoice didn’t make it for me😕

                                                      • Benjamin Lahr
                                                        Benjamin Lahr  1 months back

                                                        Maybe they shouldn't have delayed the Thomas Cook flight...

                                                        • PASSUR Aerospace
                                                          PASSUR Aerospace  2 months back

                                                          Great educational video!

                                                          • Den Topseje Gummiand
                                                            Den Topseje Gummiand  2 months back

                                                            Rip Thomas Cook

                                                            • Lex
                                                              Lex  2 months back

                                                              taking the FEAST tests at Eurocontrol in about a month wish me luck

                                                              • McKayla Medina
                                                                McKayla Medina  2 months back

                                                                There goes our ozone layer

                                                                • sjakebaas
                                                                  sjakebaas  2 months back

                                                                  What happens , if your system has a failure ,with planes in the air?

                                                                  • Mark Moire
                                                                    Mark Moire  2 months back

                                                                    At 1:54 is that a Facebook mom minion meme above the persons desk?

                                                                    • Major Kong
                                                                      Major Kong  2 months back

                                                                      Ahh, the French strike again!

                                                                      • 47ambrose42jpm
                                                                        47ambrose42jpm  2 months back

                                                                        How does one become an ATC person?

                                                                        • Tom Donnelly
                                                                          Tom Donnelly  2 months back

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

                                                                          • unknown unknown
                                                                            unknown unknown  2 months back

                                                                            Today schedule 1615 to 2115

                                                                            • Jeff Ray
                                                                              Jeff Ray  2 months back

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

                                                                              • Ibirdball
                                                                                Ibirdball  3 months back

                                                                                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  3 months back

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

                                                                                  • John Daltrocanto
                                                                                    John Daltrocanto  3 months back

                                                                                    You really butchered that Italian name

                                                                                    • DaRobo
                                                                                      DaRobo  3 months back

                                                                                      I regret checking if checklistmas{ was actually taken.

                                                                                      • Neurofied Yamato
                                                                                        Neurofied Yamato  3 months back

                                                                                        Wow cool, you actually went to eurocontrol.

                                                                                        • badlandskid
                                                                                          badlandskid  3 months back

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

                                                                                          • UConnhuskyandrewnduati
                                                                                            UConnhuskyandrewnduati  3 months back

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

                                                                                            • Shadowwolf TD5000
                                                                                              Shadowwolf TD5000  3 months back

                                                                                              2:38 There's also an RAF base there

                                                                                              • Incorrigible Panda
                                                                                                Incorrigible Panda  3 months back

                                                                                                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  2 months back

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