12 SMART Goals Examples for Air Traffic Controllers

Air traffic controllers must ensure the efficiency of air travel. Their ability to manage multiple flights, communicate with pilots, and react swiftly to situations is paramount in maintaining smooth airspace operations.

However, like any profession, there’s always room for improvement. This is where establishing SMART goals comes in. SMART gives you a structured framework for excellence.

When applied to the air traffic control profession, they can help increase overall operational efficiency. In this post, we will explore 12 examples of SMART goals for air traffic controllers.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer aiming to excel in this challenging field, these kinds of goals will provide invaluable insights to boost your career trajectory.

What is a SMART Goal?

The SMART framework provides an effective method for setting goals within the air traffic control profession.

SMART consists of 5 components (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) that can guide controllers toward peak performance:


Being specific increases the likelihood of success for air traffic controllers. Rather than saying, “I want to improve my efficiency,” they could aim to “reduce response times to pilot requests.”

By writing down these detailed objectives for each shift, air traffic controllers can remain focused and track their progress over time.


Air traffic controllers should set goals that allow them to monitor their progress. That might involve tracking metrics like the number of successful communications per hour or the time to respond to emergencies.

Recording this enables you to adjust your strategies based on performance. You’ll completely understand how close they are to meeting the target.


It is essential that goals are ambitious yet realistic. For instance, if an air traffic controller aims to handle 20% more flights within their shift, they must ensure it’s feasible given their current workload and available resources.


Ensure the goals relate to your overall growth. If they pertain to your everyday work, you can better understand your motivation and create manageable targets. There’s also an increase in job satisfaction when you see the direct effects of your efforts.


Realize that every goal should ideally have a timeline. For instance, “I aim to reduce my response time to emergencies by 15% over the following three months.”

Having a strict deadline fosters a feeling of urgency. It helps to reduce procrastination, encouraging you to work more diligently towards your objective.

12 SMART Goals Examples for Air Traffic Controllers

1. Reduce Delay Times

“I want to reduce average delay times by 10% by the end of the next quarter. I will optimize our route management system using data from past delays. Plus, I’ll regularly evaluate potential new routes and revise flight plans as needed.”

Specific: You plan to optimize route management and evaluate potential routes.

Measurable: You can check the average delay times to determine if you’ve met your target.

Attainable: If you diligently work, this SMART goal should definitely be feasible.

Relevant: This statement is related to reducing delays for air traffic controllers.

Time-based: There is a timeline of three months until the quarter’s end.

2. Enhance Communication Quality

“Within two weeks, I want to improve the quality of communication with pilots and other air traffic controllers. I will list verbal communication skills to practice, such as active listening and confirming instructions. I’ll also roleplay with colleagues to get feedback on my communication style.”

Specific: The individual seeks to improve the quality of their communications with pilots and fellow air traffic controllers.

Measurable: Make sure you create a list of verbal communication skills and practice these with colleagues.

Attainable: This is doable since you’re actively working on your communication style in a short period of time.

Relevant: Communication with pilots and other air traffic controllers is crucial to safety and efficiency.

Time-based: The goal is time-bound since it has an end date of two weeks.

3. Maintain Accurate Flight Logs

“I will strive to maintain accurate flight logs for all my flights within one month. That includes filing the most updated information regarding passenger count, flight route and duration, and other relevant details.”

Specific: The goal outlines what needs to be done concerning flight logs.

Measurable: You can track the accuracy of the flight logs on a regular basis.

Attainable: Keeping accurate flight logs is possible in the time frame given.

Relevant: Accurate flight logs are essential for air traffic controllers to do their jobs properly.

Time-based: This statement should be completed within one month.

4. Clarify Instructions to Pilots

“I hope to create a comprehensive set of instructions for pilots to make air traffic control more efficient within 6 months. This document will include the information a pilot needs to safely navigate an aircraft on the ground and in the air.”

Specific: The SMART goal is explicit in terms of what must be done and the timeline.

Measurable: You could measure the efficiency of air traffic control based on how successfully pilots follow the instructions.

Attainable: This is feasible because it’s a realistic time to create the document.

Relevant: This goal is pertinent to making air traffic control safer and more efficient.

Time-based: There is a 6-month end date to meet your desired goal.

5. Increase Aircraft Safety

“I’ll work towards improving aircraft safety by applying the best practices when controlling aircraft in my airspace for the 8 months ahead. I will also review all incidents and make necessary changes to increase safety for all involved.”

Specific: The aim is to increase aircraft safety for the duration of 8 months.

Measurable: Evaluate progress by reviewing all incidents and making changes accordingly.

Attainable: You should have enough time to make necessary changes and apply best practices when controlling aircraft.

Relevant: It ties into the main job of an air traffic controller: ensuring aircraft safety.

Time-based: Completion of this goal is expected within 8 months.

6. Build Rapport With Pilots

“For the following three months, I will make a point to engage pilots in conversation during their preflight briefings and strive to learn one new thing about them daily.”

Specific: You know what you should do (engage pilots in conversation and learn something new) and how often (every day).

Measurable: You can check how much talking you’ve done and how many things you’ve learned.

Attainable: It is doable to engage in conversations as long as pilots are open to talking.

Relevant: Fostering better relationships with pilots is a great way for air traffic controllers to learn more about their jobs.

Time-based: Goal achievement should be met after three months.

7. Monitor Weather Conditions

“To ensure air safety, I plan to monitor weather conditions before take-off and landings for every flight. I will also inform pilots of any changes to the weather that could affect their flights.”

Specific: The goal is concise, stating precisely the objective and how it will be accomplished.

Measurable: You can gauge progress by monitoring weather conditions before take-off and landings.

Attainable: This can be met by staying informed about local and international weather patterns.

Relevant: Part of your job is to ensure all pilots are aware of any changes in the weather that could affect their flights.

Time-based: Consider this as an ongoing effort. It should continuously be monitored.

8. Improve Aircraft Flow Through Airspace

“I’ll increase the flow of aircraft through airspace by analyzing the existing air traffic patterns and making changes to optimize the flow. Within 5 months, I will develop strategies to reduce congestion in the airspace while minimizing conflicts.”

Specific: The goal states the objective, how to achieve it, and the deadline.

Measurable: You could look at the number of aircraft that have flown through a specific area in a certain period of time.

Attainable: It’s realistic to analyze air traffic patterns and find ways to optimize the flow of aircraft.

Relevant: This could improve overall air traffic safety and reduce congestion.

Time-based: You have a 5-month end date to reach success.

9. Minimize Controller Stress Levels

“I want to reduce my stress levels by 10% in the next three months. I’ll set aside 15 minutes daily for mindfulness and relaxation exercises, ensuring I get enough sleep each night and taking breaks throughout the workday to avoid burnout.”

Specific: The air traffic controller wants to reduce their stress levels by at least 10%.

Measurable: Stress levels can be easily monitored through self-assessment tools and surveys.

Attainable: With the right strategies in place, reducing stress levels by 10% is achievable.

Relevant: The statement relates to an air traffic controller’s well-being and performance on the job.

Time-based: Three months are required to accomplish lasting success.

10. Respond Quickly to Emergencies

“My aim is to reduce response time to emergencies by 20% over the course of three months. I will familiarize myself with all applicable emergency protocols during my downtime and continue to practice my response times in simulation scenarios.”

Specific: Your goal is to reduce response time to emergencies for three months.

Measurable: Determine the average response time before beginning and measure it against the final result after three months.

Attainable: A 20% reduction in response time should be possible upon proper training and practice.

Relevant: Responding quickly to emergencies is essential for air traffic controllers.

Time-based: Goal attainment will be reached within three months.

11. Stay Current With ATC Regulations

“I will read the current regulations and guidelines from my regional air traffic control center within two months. This should keep me updated with new procedures and better equipped to handle any potential issues on the job.”

Specific: This is about staying on top of changes to ATC regulations to better prepare for the job.

Measurable: This is assessed by reading the current regulations and guidelines within two months.

Attainable: With sufficient effort, this statement can be achieved in a reasonable amount of time.

Relevant: Staying updated with ATC regulations is essential for any air traffic controller.

Time-based: There is a two-month deadline to accomplish the SMART goal.

12. Have a Positive Attitude

“By the end of four weeks, I’ll foster a more positive mindset when dealing with difficult tasks and challenging situations. I hope to become more patient and understanding in my work.”

Specific: Focus on developing a more positive attitude regarding challenging situations.

Measurable: Ensure that the attitude remains more positive after four weeks.

Attainable: Switching to a more optimistic attitude in the right environment is possible.

Relevant: This goal will help air traffic controllers control their emotions and reactions on the job.

Time-based: The statement must be met after four entire weeks.

Final Thoughts

Developing SMART goals is a powerful strategy for air traffic controllers to enhance their professional performance. The nature of these goals ensures they are realistic, providing a path toward improvement.

The 12 examples outlined in this article serve as a roadmap for any air traffic controller seeking to elevate their skills and efficiency.

By tailoring these goals to their unique situations and career aspirations, controllers can foster continuous improvement, boost their confidence, and contribute more effectively to the safety and efficiency of air travel.

Becoming a top-performing air traffic controller requires patience and a commitment to lifelong learning. With the assistance of SMART goals, you can stay focused and celebrate your successes.

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