Air Traffic Controller

Air Traffic Controller

On an air traffic controller apprenticeship course, you’ll help direct aircraft, both on the ground and through controlled airspace.

The United Kingdom manages one of the busiest and most complex airspaces globally. A wide range of specialised air traffic controller roles contributes to aircraft’s safe and efficient movement with civil and military operations, working together to offer a fully integrated service to all users 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As an air traffic controller, you’ll work in a variety of aviation settings, such as air traffic control centres, commercial airports, military bases and aerodromes, and other airfields; some air traffic controllers use their training and experience in consultancy, aerospace manufacturing, or the global aerospace industry.

Your primary obligation is to offer a safe, efficient, and reliable service using your knowledge and abilities. Key responsibilities include avoiding collisions between aircraft and obstructions, maintaining minimum safe distances between aircraft, and delivering directions to pilots.

What you’ll learn

On an air traffic controller apprenticeship course, you’ll learn to:

  • As an employee and an air traffic controller, you must uphold your health and safety duties.
  • Any safety issues should be reported to the appropriate authorities.
  • Manage aviation security in one’s area of operations by adhering to organisational reporting and response standards.
  • Manage the planning, problem-solving, and decision making using knowledge, experience, and dynamic information. Control the presentation of situational data and how it is used and updated.
  • Maintain spatial awareness inside the control zone allocated to you.
  • Within one’s duty area, manage laws, aviation procedures, and regulations.
  • Adopt appropriate strategies and language to manage user, employee, and external agency communication.
  • Takeover and transfer control of the operating site safely at the start and end of an allocated period of air traffic control.
  • Assess and respond to modest levels of traffic volume and complexity.
  •  Effectively manage difficult situations and individuals.
  • Effectively manage working relationships and exchanges between various types of controllers situated in the same and different locations (domestic and international)
  • Collaborate effectively with other stakeholders to attain adequate environmental protections.
  • Effectively manage air traffic by understanding appropriate theory, experience, and current operating directives.
  • Manage the team and the facilities to guarantee that results are produced according to the agreed-upon performance criteria.
  • Accept obligations and accountability.
  • Maintain resilience, effectiveness, and operational safety even when a plan is not executed.
  • Recognise and constructively react to any errors that are uncovered.
  • Recognise and respond appropriately to tiredness. Accept responsibility for one’s medical fitness to prevent jeopardising other airspace users when one’s effectiveness is jeopardised.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • Depending on the employer, but likely A-levels or equivalent qualifications or relevant experience.
  • Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level before taking the end-point assessment.
  • Pass security checks
  • Pass a medical check
  • Be over 18 years of age

Assessment methods

The End Point Assessment consists of two distinct assessment methods: 

  • Practical Assessment 
  • Oral Assessment 

Duration and level

  • Duration: 15 months
  • Level: 5 – Higher Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship standard

More information about the Level 5 Air Traffic Controller Apprenticeship standard can be found here.

Apprenticeship end point assessment

For more information about the End Point Assessment Process, please read the Institute of Apprenticeships’ information page.

Updated on October 2, 2022

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