Air traffic control
Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers
Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers are the people who expedite and maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control system. The position of the air traffic controller is one that requires highly specialized skills...

 who direct aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other support for pilots when able. In some countries, ATC may also play a security or defense role (as in the United States), or be run entirely by the military (as in Brazil).

Preventing collisions is referred to as separation
Separation (air traffic control)
In air traffic control, separation is the name for the concept of keeping an aircraft outside a minimum distance from another aircraft to reduce the risk of those aircraft colliding, as well as prevent accidents due to wake turbulence....

, which is a term used to prevent aircraft from coming too close to each other by use of lateral, vertical and longitudinal separation minima; many aircraft now have collision avoidance systems installed to act as a backup to ATC observation and instructions.