Why be an Air Traffic Controller?
Views like this become regular things when you work shifts. This picture was taken at around 0430!!
Training to become a fully qualified air traffic controller can take around three years. The actual structure of the training is likely to vary depending on the provider.
Training with private course providers has to be paid for but you can usually choose the area you wish to specialise in, e.g. area control, aerodrome, etc. If candidates train with National Air Traffic Services (NATS), they receive a basic wage as the training stages are part of their employment. They may be placed in any location in the UK, however, once a certain part of their training is complete, and the area they specialise in is usually determined by business needs.
The basic training with NATS usually takes around two months to complete. This is followed by training in the specialised areas. Area control courses take around nine months, aerodrome/approach courses take at least eight months and aerodrome courses take around five months. These are minimum course lengths and some candidates may take longer to finish the training.
Upon completion of this stage, candidates are placed in available positions and continue with training to work towards validation. The time this takes varies depending on the individual and the unit they are placed in.
Candidates are assessed throughout their training through the use of practical exercises, exams and oral tests.
Those from other course providers are able to apply for trainee roles with other air services operators, where they will continue with their training.
Once qualified, all air traffic controllers are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. This means they will continue to go on training courses or will receive in-house training throughout their careers.
The CAA does not regulate the recruitment of ATCOs, or provide training to become an ATCO. If you are considering a career in Air Traffic Control (ATC), you are advised to contact the organisation that provides ATC at your local airport, who should be able to put you in contact with relevant training organisations.
There are two major stages towards gaining an ATCO licence:
There are no entry requirements to the ATC training courses but applicants for a Student licence must hold at least one ‘GCSE’ level pass or equivalent and hold any educational qualification which would enable the applicant to gain access to university or a similar educational institution. In certain circumstances, the CAA may grant an exemption to requirements if the person concerned has sufficient experience and education to give the applicant a reasonable prospect of completing air traffic control training. If you are intending to finance your own training you should seriously consider undertaking the aptitude testing offered by ATC training organisations.
You are also advised to undertake an initial medical assessment for an ATC licence before committing yourself to a training course. The medical assessment only determines your medical fitness at the time of the examination, but you will be required to maintain a minimum medical standard throughout your career. Your eyesight or hearing could be within the limits of the required standard, but may deteriorate with time. You should seek advice on the likelihood of your maintaining the required medical standard for your proposed career span.
The UK requires all applicants for a Student Air Traffic Controller licence or Air Traffic Controller licence to have demonstrated the ability to speak and understand the English language to at least level 4 of the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale. You will be required to maintain at least this level of proficiency in order to exercise the privileges of your Licence. In some cases you will be required to undertake periodic reassessments of your English language proficiency.
Initial training courses are provided by a number of ATC training organisations that have been certified to do so by the CAA.
The CAA does not set the examinations. Successful completion of an approved course of training and the associated examinations is the only method by which you can apply for the grant of a Student Air Traffic Controller licence. If you fail an approved course of training you are permitted to retake the course.
Other Employment Opportunities in ATC
Many air traffic control units employ Air Traffic Service Assistants (ATSAs). ATSAs provide support to air traffic controllers and provide administrative functions necessary for the air traffic service system to continue working.
Air traffic control units also require engineering support (Air Traffic Engineers) to ensure that the equipment and navigation aids are maintained and operate correctly.
You should contact your local airport directly to enquire about employment prospects as an ATSA or Air Traffic Engineer.
Further Information is available from the CAA
An Area Controlleris responsible for:
The role of the Approach Controlleris to:
The Aerodrome Controller:
At the largest airports, the role of Aerodrome Controller may be further subdivided into Air Controllers, who monitor the aircraft during landing, and Ground Movement Controllers, who guide the aircraft through the airport to the terminals once it is grounded. (Source:myjobsearch.com)
Air Traffic Controllers (often shortened to ATCOs) ensure the safe and orderly movement of air traffic in our skies. Over 7000 aircraft pass through UK airspace on a daily basis, and it’s the job of ATCOs to maintain their safety and correct position, and manage the flow of aircraft along major air routes. With escalating volumes of air traffic (5% more every year), maximising efficient use of controlled airspace has in recent years become an increasingly important aspect of air traffic control. ATCOs communicate with pilots and instruct them to maintain or alter their height, speed and course, using visual contact, radar, radio and a suite of other communication technologies. Most ATCOs work at Area Control Centres (ACCs) of which there are two in the UK, at Prestwick and Swanwick. The most common role is as an Area Controller with responsibility for regulating air traffic along major routes. Other ATCO roles include Approach Controller, dealing with aircraft movement into and out of the airport and Aerodrome Controller, guiding aircraft through landing and to the terminal, including safe landing, take-off and taxi. (Source:myjobsearch.com)
Welcome to the new Air Traffic Control Blog. The aim of this blog is to explain how to become a controller, what the job involves and the day to day life of an air traffic controller.
Feel free to post any questions and we’ll do our best to answer them…..