ATCO training


I'm about to attend AIB to try and get in as an Air Traffic Control Officer (and, believe it or not, I'm not a failed pilot/observer - I actually want to do ATC!).

I've had a browse around on the RN website/here/PPRuNe and I've worked out the basic training pipeline (BRNC, Shawbury, Yeovil/Culdrose) but there seems to be no information on what you actually do during training and what sort of jobs you can expect after qualification.

So my questions are... what is ATC training like? Is Shawbury all simulator work or "real life" practice as well? What do ATCOs do that, say, an NA(AC) wouldn't do? What is the rough percentage of people who pass? How much sea time is there and do you only deploy on carriers or is there any work on RFAs or Frigates/Destroyers too?

And of course, any advice/information anyone can provide in addition would be very much appreciated.

Contact your careers advisor at your local AFCO for info if you are still a civvie. If you are already in the MOB go have a chat with your local friendly air traffic guys. I hope that helps.


War Hero
As it's a fairly specialised field with relatively small manning levels in relation to other branches, your best bet to get definitive answers (short of getting a trained ATCO to reply on here: "Roger, Roger. You are clear to taxi Clarence...What's your Vector Victor?") is to ask your ACLO if it may be possible to arrange an ATCO acquaint visit in order that you may get an accurate insight from the horses mouth. There are current dedicated ATCO careers pages on the RN Website & ATCO publications available however they are seldom seen being requested at AFCOs, which indicates they are about as common as Drain Sniffers. (Environmental Health Officers). ie: Not very. There are also the new direct entry Rating (AC) careers publications available, for those interseted- hot off the press.

My guess that regular seagoing elements of your career will be few and far between as apart from command platforms there's only ever a maximum of two carriers operational and even if both were working flat out, each with 24/7 flying, there would only need to be at most 4 of you to maintain around the clock cover.

Doubtless someone will correct me in strident and indignant tones - which was the entire reason behind the post.

"Permission to fly-by, Maverick Out."
Hi Wannabe,

I'm a JATCC qualified senior rate working in the ATC training office at Yeovilton.

Would be more than happy to arrange a visit for you to Yeovilton ATC or Culdrose if suits?

Will be able to answer all the questions you have posted + any further ones you may have.


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