ON THE SPOT: A day with Air Traffic Controllers in the sky above the region



Serbia and Monte Negro Air Traffic Control is responsible for the airspace of 145.556 square kilometers which includes not only the sky above these two countries but also a part above Adriatic Sea as well as 55% of the upper airspace of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their main task is to offer services in air traffic and also training air traffic controllers and pilots, consulting services and maintaining aircraft.

Mr. Nenad Bjelogrlic, an aeronautical engineer employed at SMATSA who worked at Boeing in the USA as one of directors, Ms. Jelena Arandjelovic, an air traffic controller responsible for pilot training and Mr. Srdjan Predojevic, company’s spokesman, recently visited Budapest. As they told us on that occasion, SMATSA’s ATC Training Centre has been training specialists for aviation for 50 years now, who work in all parts of the world. As they said, air traffic controller’s job is very hard and demands a high level of knowledge, capability and determination. From the above mentioned reasons, SMATSA trains only those candidates who pass a rigorous selection process.

SMATSA Aviation Academy at Vrsac is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. More than two thousands pilots have completed training in this academy who have been flying for more than thirty world’s companies today.

Our Academy constantly trains candidates from Hungary. The training is of high quality but cheaper than anywhere else in the region. That is the reason why candidates from the whole region including Hungary come on flight training at our place. The Academy possesses 300 acres of land, an airspace consisting of 1700 square kilometers, its own control tower, flight specialists with more than 20 years of experience e.i. 7500 flying hours. We also have the latest state-of-art flight simulator and a renewed fleet consisting of 20 aircraft, said Mr. Nenad Bjelogrlic.

As our interviewees say, for those wishing to become pilots one day, the first step is to file an application on SMATSA internet site. They also need to go through medical checks and obtain a certificate. Finally, they need to pass entrance tests in mathematics and physics. All communication and lectures are in English language.

Theory classes for commercial pilots are held every day while flying is organized according to special schedule. The whole training lasts from 18 to 24 months while the training for private pilot license is shorter and simpler, said Ms. Jelena Arandjelovic.

We have a lot of candidates from our emigrants, when their children are 18 years old, they seek possibilities to come on training in Serbia. This is realized in many cases, so the children of our emigrants spend time here to get to know their roots and enrich their national identity.

Training for commercial pilot costs around 41,000,00 euros while for PPL costs around 7.000,00 euros. Loans that candidates use for training fees are paid back in a very short time since the pilots salaries in most aviation companies are quite high.

Our company and especially Aviation Academy are strategically very important for the Republic of Serbia and it is good that we have a co-operation with the countries in the region especially from those our candidates come from. The help from our embassy in Hungary is precious. Such help is seen in giving support to our promotional activities in Hungary so the potential candidates understand we are part of Serbia. We expect to get such support by connecting with local companies and by promoting things what Serbia could offer which is good for Hungary, said Mr. Bjelogrlic.


Serbia and Hungary air traffic controls have a tight co-operation which is constant according to the words of our interviewees. Aircraft from Hungary overfly Serbia and vice versa so two controls are in everyday contacts. Co-operation is done by using calibrating services. SMATSA has an aircraft equipped for calibrating radio navigation aids performed twice a year and even more, which overflies Budapest airport for a few hours and delivers operational information which aids on the ground should be adjusted. After additional checking, SMATSA issues Hungarian Control an approval for using those aids.

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