ATC IssuesA place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.
I've recently submitted an application to start doing ATC in the RAF, and I knew beforehand that controllers in the military will get a different license as to those who go train with NATS.
So I was just wondering what options will be available for me after I finish my service for the RAF. Will I be able to join NATS by just doing a few extra exams or something, or will I have to go through the same application stages as other new recruits and then doing the 18 month training with NATS?
Or does some airports hire ex military AT controllers?
Not to be impertinent in the face of greatness HD.. but I believe the world of RAF ATC has changed a lot. Perhaps I could deliver my recently learnt two pennies?
I recently visited RAF Linton on Ouse to spend a day in their Tower, and I learnt a great deal about the RAF ATC way of life, training schemes etc. I also believe I've learnt through several "sources" the validity of military qualifications in aviation.
Firstly, in the RAF one is of course technically an RAF Officer (or perhaps an NCO depending on your route of choice) first, however, in reality RAF ATCOs or ATCs are doing a civvy job, in uniform. I asked that very question about, RAF First ATC Second, and I was met with essentially.. "no it doesn't really work like that. We are ATCOs who work for the RAF really"...
Training: I believe that military ATCOs are now expected to be fully validated at unit within 2 years of completing their JATCC.
Validity of "book": It is my current understanding that Military ATCOs have a "book" containing their qualifications. This "book" is not valid, in any way in the civilian sector. Military ATCOs on leaving service, have to pay to re-train for a civil qualification.
It is my belief that work is being undertaken to change this, but as to how long that'll take.. I don't think anybody knows.
There are LOTS of ex-military controllers at airports around the UK, so military to civil is a well trodden and well proven path.
I have my own opinions on the "point" of working for the RAF, but it's your decision to make.
I would just say however, that if you do want to consider military ATC, with a slightly different flavour to RAF, in as much that you really are officer first and foremost, then consider the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
I didn't mean to tread on any toes, so apologies if it appears that way. I do not have any practical ATC experience in any area. I am currently applying to become an ATCO, but do not have anything like the knowledge-base or experience of people like HD
Well since I have 3 A-Levels and just about to start my last year in University, I was able to apply straight for an Air Traffic Control Officer role which have a more privileges and rights than a normal controller. So would being an Officer be any benefits when trying to join a civil service in the UK?
I have 10 days to pull out my application, and I have considered this. As I have come to the point where I'm thinking, 'what's the point of going through all the training and then just doing it for a few years?' Would it be better for me to just apply straight with NATS?
I also believe I've learnt through several "sources" the validity of military qualifications in aviation.
AS HD says what qualifications you gained in the RAF (or Navy) as an ATCO count for diddly squat in civvie world. Apart from some minor exemption in the Met/Navigation exams.
Originally Posted by PhiltheReaper
I was met with essentially.. "no it doesn't really work like that. We are ATCOs who work for the RAF really"...
But they're Officers/SNCO's first and foremost.
Originally Posted by PhiltheReaper
Validity of "book": It is my current understanding that Military ATCOs have a "book" containing their qualifications.
They have a Certificate of Competency (RAF form 5994) issued by the Ministry of Transport (if I recall correctly). Within that are endorsements for each position held at a unit for which they've qualified to provide a service. Similar to the way the civilian 'yellow peril' operates.
Phil and CJ. With respect, you both need to mug up on civil and military ATC. The guys working in RAF ATC Units are not simply ATCOs working for the RAF as civil and military ATC are similar but different ball games.
If you are interested primarily in a military career, with all it entails, then go for the RAF or the RN. If you are just interested in ATC and want a quieter lifestyle with much better conditions then go for NATS. Check on what RAF ATCOs earn and how much time off they get...... where they're likely to be posted, etc.
Well to be honest, I have lost hope in joining NATS as their website aren't recruiting, and it's been like that for months.
My ideal career would be to work as an Air Traffic Controller somewhere in the UK, and to do that with training fees covered is to join NATS. But I just can't see that happening now. And that is why I've applied for the RAF, as I've also heard that the transition from Military ATC to Civil ATC is possible - and it's been done before. And I did know beforehand that the qualifications you gain in the Military as a controller would be much different to the ones you gain with NATS.
But now I'm beginning to come across old threads with advice (including in this one) stating if your purpose of joining the RAF is to be a AT controller, you just might as well do it with NATS, as it takes even more years of training to be a controller in the UK after you finish in the military.
So now I'm now in limbo not sure what option to take. The most obvious option is to apply for NATS, but they're not looking anywhere near to the point of recruiting anytime soon. But I have heard that Eurocontrol is recruiting, would that be a good option to take? And what's the success rate like roughly with them, would I have a chance joining them being from Wales?
I've also heard that the transition from Military ATC to Civil ATC is possible - and it's been done before.
It is possible, but in exactly the same way as Joe Bloggs coming in off civvie street 'transitions'. Military ATC qualifications are not recognised in the civilian world and that is highly unlikely to ever change.
CJ... It's not a matter of NATS "covering training fees". If you are accepted for NATS, that's your employment and training is part of it.
I don't think things are too rosy in the RAF at the moment - take a peep at the Aircrew pages on here and you'll see fears of redundancy. Unfortunately, recruiting in aviation always follows a Sine wave - everyone goes bananas and recruits like made.... a few years later the units are teeming with staff so they stop recruiting..... until well after shortages occur.... then they get going again. It's been like that as long as I can remember - back 40+ years.
But I have heard that Eurocontrol is recruiting, would that be a good option to take? And what's the success rate like roughly with them, would I have a chance joining them being from Wales?
Definitely consider Eurocontrol. It is open to UK applicants (no penalty for being Welsh ), and assuming you're OK with moving there, appears to be a very good option.
In terms of success rate, i'd reason that if you could qualify as an en route controller in one company, you could most likely do it in another. That's a guess though (and from a non-area controller at that).
I served 8 years as an ATCO in the RAF reaching the dizzy heights of Flight Lieutenant before retiring. Don't regret a moment of it. Met some good friends and had some great times. One draw back is that you inevitably pick up secondary duties and are judged on performance of these rather than your day job. The ATC branch in the RAF are currently undergoing a round of redundancies that will witness almost half of the senior posts (Squadron Leader and above) disappear. Military controlling teaches valuable flexibility and definitely gives a good grounding, if it is your intention to use it as a stepping stone.
I left the RAF in 1990 and crossed over to NATS & had the great pleasure of working alongside HD for a number of years. From recollection dispensation was given for Meteorology & Navigation exams only. UK military licences (Blue book) had little credence in 1990, I fear and stand to be corrected that the situation has not changed. At the risk of alienating my ex colleagues and current RAF controllers, the skill sets required for civil controlling are significantly different. Civil ATC relies heavily on the majority of aircraft doing the same thing in the same piece of airspace. You may end up working double figures of civil aircraft and be arguably as busy as working 3 or 4 military fast jets. The disciplines vary widely. In NATS, if you dont want to be involved in secondary tasks, you dont have to be. Naturally, if you want to seek promotion then involvement would help.
NATS does little to encourage ANY controllers with previous experience to join their ranks. Holders of European licences are currently required to undertake the full ab initio course!!!
Some would argue that it would be best to join NATS at the outset, if that is where you are aiming to be. If I had my time again, I wouldn't change a thing.
Good luck in your deliberations, such decisions are never black and white.
You mention a recruitment freeze at NATS, isn't the RAF having a similar sort of freeze? To cut a long story short, a friend, who works at a careers office, mentioned that they aren't processing new application until at least October.
CJ, for what it's worth what everyone has said above is about right. The only things that I'd add are the extras that a military career brings you in terms of what you can do on the outside in later years. If you just want to control then nowadays there's little difference between joining as a junior officer and a direct entrant senior non-commissioned officer. However, as a JO you will be expected to take on additional responsibilities much sooner than as a SNCO. In terms of how your career will be viewed in civvy street once you get the other side, clearly a lot depends on how long you stay in for. However, skills such as leadership and resource management are a key part of being in the military and sought after outside. There are still (some) opportunities for adventure training and sport and you will end up being deployed at some point within your first 3 years (unless we escape Afghan sooner rather than later). It is a fantastic experience but is not a quick route into civil controlling. Although it sounds trite to say it, the only other thing that I'd say is that if you're not committed 110% to joining the RAF then the selection board at Cranwell will find that out. There are vacancies, despite the redundancies but competition is fierce. Good luck whatever you choose to do!
There's plenty ex-RAF ATC working in safety and engineering at NATS, there's plenty of other jobs in NATS apart from ATCO posts.
And ATC, it's not all about shifting traffic But with current recruitment the chances are slim, although some openings have appeared as ex-NATS staff take the opportunities becoming available for non controller staff in Dubai.
They need to recruit ASAP. From what I hear, TC is not a happy place with several ATCOs moving to warmer climes..
Wise words Bren, but try telling that to the idiots who run the recruitment asylum. It appears that what the NATS "System" really needs is for individual Airport ATC Managers to given complete autonomy to recruit who they want and to put through the training system any potential trainee they consider capable of succeeding. There are many very capable student ATCOs coming out of the two independant training centres (formally known as colleges)with ADI ratings, applying to NATS, only to be told that they have to do the full basic and ADI course again with NATS.
Utter madness in the extreme, but twas ever thus I suppose.
What has been said on here so far is correct. Mil blue book still has no credence outside the mil so when you leave you will either have to join NATS and start again from the beginning with their training or pay for yourself to go through one of the outside providers. Both routes have been taken by numerous ex mil colleagues. However, neither are guaranteed. NATS arent always recruiting and people sometimes dont pass - despite being well qualified in mil ATC world. As someone has already said, the 2 styles of controlling can be quite different. Others who have paid for their own training (with help of gratuities on leaving) have passed their course but yet to find a job. In the RAF you are DEFINTELY a service person first and foremost and a controller just happens to be a skill you have learnt. But you will be expected to do any jobs that come your way - and depending on your rank this wont always be a controlling role! Detachments may not be in a controlling role either although it often is as its a skill not to be wasted in another job. If you want to join then recruitment IS open in the RAF - more so for direct entrant SNCO than officer but both are possible. Decide if you want to be in the military OR want to be a controller more and that will be the decision point! If you want to control then suggest you control - in the military you dont always get to do it!