Agartala: Meet Bipasha Hrangkhwal, the first woman air traffic controller (ATC) from Tripura, who has been working at the Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala for the past one year.
Speaking with EastMojo, Bipasha said, “It was my father who always had a wish to see me one day working at ATC. Since my childhood, we used to sit and watch the show called Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic Channel together. Every time we watched the show, he used to ask me to apply for the job in future.”
“Working at ATC is quite challenging since anything can happen in a fraction of second and we have to make decisions as quickly as possible. Or else, flights may get delayed and even cause danger to hundreds of lives,” she added.
Bipasha hails from a remote village called Rangamura in Teliamura town of Khowai district. Her father, Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, works as an engineer in the state power department.
Bipasha did her schooling from Don Bosco School and later pursued her Bachelor’s degree in electronic and telecommunication engineering from Mumbai University.
After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she returned to Agartala and started working as a marketing executive at a private company for about 10 months.
“Working as a marketing executive was not something I wanted. In August 2016, I decide to leave this job and start preparing for government jobs. It was then that my father asked me again to apply for post of junior executives at the ATC in Airports Authority of India (AAI). I was fortunate enough that in 2017 I cleared the written examination,” Bipasha told EastMojo.
Having no idea about the job and the kind of questions she might have to answer, Bipasha started preparing and researching about the job profile before the interview.
“It was all new for me and I had no idea about what an ATC executive does. I had to do a lot of research and finally, I got some idea from the Internet about the basic functions and requirements. It was only during my research that I got to know that the work of an ATC is to control the air space, avoid delays and direct flights so that no coalition between flights takes place.
Once selected in the interview, Bipasha had to undergo a six-month training, which was very difficult at initial stage.
After selection, Bipasha went through a training session at one of the AAI’s training centres at Gondia in Maharashtra. Soon after completing the training programme, she was posted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai for about seven months.
“While I was posted in Mumbai, my father suffered a brain stroke in June last year. After this, I had to take leave very frequently to look after him. Later, looking at the condition of my father and family members I decided to apply for my transfer and luckily, I got my transfer here at Agartala and joined as ATC junior executive officer,” Bipasha said.
Talking about being the first woman ATC executive from the state, Bipasha said, “I was amazed and happy when I got to know from one of my senior officers that I was the first woman ATC executive from Tripura.”
“Just a few months ago, when one of my seniors tweeted about me and it went viral, only then my family came to know that I am the first woman ATC officer from Tripura,” Bipasha said, adding: “My father was the happiest person and I could not have asked for more than this from the Almighty. Having fulfilled my father’s dream I was happy but my father could not celebrate the way he wanted since he suffered a brain stroke.”
Working at the Air Traffic Control is considered to be one of the most difficult jobs since officers posted there are constantly dealing with number of flights carrying hundreds of lives and one silly mistake can finish everything in seconds, she said.
“We have to be very focused and attentive while directing and handling flight movements,” Bipasha added.
“Around 15 flights land and take off at the Agartala airport every day and we are responsible for giving clearance to them without making them wait for long,” she added.
Apart from controlling the air space, Bipasha also likes to spend time with her mother who is a homemaker and loves to cook food for her family members.
“I love spending time with my family and whenever I get time, I always want to stay at home rather than hanging out in the city. I also love spending time with my dog and read books a lot while at home,” Bipasha told EastMojo.