Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Ground & Other Ops Forums > ATC Issues
Reload this Page >

Is NATS and ASTAC the only option to get into ATC?

ATC Issues A 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.

Is NATS and ASTAC the only option to get into ATC?

Old 26th Jan 2010, 13:59
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: london
Age: 32
Posts: 3
Is NATS and ASTAC the only option to get into ATC?

I know you've probably heard these same questions over and over but I've been going through the forums and it seems that NATS and ASTAC are the preferred choices to start a career in ATC. I have no previous knowledge background in aviation but i am eager to become an ATC. NATS selection process seems very limited, competitive, long and demanding. Is there any alternative routes I can take without having to go through the interview process? I wonder if taking courses in becoming a ATC assistant (first) would be easier and helpful in becoming a future ATC.

P.S. - Can you please tell me if there is any colleges in London that offer courses that lead to becoming a successful ATC?
Greazystringz is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 14:31
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: London
Posts: 67
What do you think about the RAF? They offer an opportunity to become a non-commissioned ATC or a fully commissioned ATC Officer.
SKOS is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 14:52
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: N/A
Posts: 1,071
Have you been through the NATS selection process before? I surprised myself how far I got. I never once believed I had what it takes. You might surprise yourself?
student88 is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 15:30
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Home
Posts: 177
The NATS selection process is pretty tough... but you've got to bear in mind that ATC is no normal career. NATS are looking for people with a very specific set of attributes that (in their experience) seem to be the most important for the job. I don't mean to be elitest or the like, but if you are worried you might not have what it takes for NATS then are you sure that this is the right career to be thinking about? I honestly don't mean to put you off (there are enough people on these forums who will quite happily do that without me adding to their number), but just want to encourage you to think this through properly before you start committing yourself to anything.

Obviously I can see what you are saying about NATS selection being quite limiting, but in other ways it is very open. I can't think of any other job where you will almost certainly end up earning in excess of 60-90k that is so easily accessible to people without any formal qualifications. Technically you can pass NATS selection with nothing but a couple of GCSE's. I'd say that was quite broad and not very limiting at all.

I'd also point out that the NATS selection isn't actually competitive. At each stage in the selection process there is a benchmark you are expected to meet, if you do so you will be invited along to the next stage, it has nothing to do with competition or the performance of any other candidate.

There are a few other routes into ATC, like self funding your own training at an indepedent college. As far as I know there are only two independent colleges training air traffic controllers in the UK, which are ASTAC (which you appear to know about) and Cwmbran (in Wales, run by BAE). Self funding is risky though, you are by no means gauranteed a job at the end of your training, and you'd probably be limited to aerodrome rather than area controlling (NATS are currently the only route into area control in the UK, and are likely to remain so for a very long time to come). Another option would be to look into becoming an ATC assistant and hoping that your employer might one day consider sponsoring you for full ATC training, but of course there are also no gaurantees here - assistant jobs are quite hard to come by and this is only likely to get worse as advances in technology reduce the requirement for the role, and with quite a number of fully trained ATCOs looking for work most aerodromes will likely look to fulfil their future ATCO requirements from this pool than to invest in training new ATCOs up at their own expense.

If you don't mind going abroad you could look into Eurocontrol, but their selection is very much like NATS.

Basically, NATS are the big fish in the UK, they run all the area control and most of the major aerodromes are contracted to them as well. The vast majority of UK ATCOs are currently employed by NATS, so if you are really interested in this job they are the main way to go. If you are worried about their selection process then just give it a go and see what happens, you might suprise yourself and you certainly aren't going to loose anything by having a crack at it.

Best of luck
Pat42 is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 15:41
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Home
Posts: 177
Just to add, as SKOS has mentioned it, the RAF is another route but I'd think long and hard about this. From what I understand (having no personal experience of it) military control is a very different job to civilian ATC, you are an RAF officer first and an ATCO second. Becoming an RAF controller might land you a cosy job alongside the civilian controllers at Swanwick, but more likely it will see you touring all around the world on tours of active combat zones such as Afghanistan. If you are genuinely interested in it then pursue this route be all means, but all the advice I've heard about military controlling is that you should only go into it if you want to be a military controller not a civilian one. I should also point out that military and civilian ATC licences are not interchangable - if you did a few years in the military and then wanted to move to civilian control you'd have to start all over again from scratch, you can't use the military as a back door route into civilian ATC.
Pat42 is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 15:42
  #6 (permalink)  
StandupfortheUlstermen
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Peoples' Democratic Republic of Wurzelsetshire
Age: 48
Posts: 1,181
NATS selection process seems very limited, competitive, long and demanding.
And the problem is what? NATS wants to recruit the best that it can, why wouldn't they? If you're not keen on working hard to get what you want then, with the greatest of respect, maybe this industry isn't for you.

Oh, and getting in somewhere as an ATSA may work but it's hit and miss, I know many ATSAs who would make good ATCOs but have never been given the chance.
Standard Noise is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 17:58
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: An anger-management clinic.
Posts: 94
I started as an Assistant with what was then the Ministry of Transport & Civil Aviation, because I didn't have the academics needed to start training as an civil ATCO. And the RAF took forever to answer letters, or get round to an interview. Back then it was 5 years as an AATC before you could be considered for "Class-toClass" promotion.

Then the RAF woke up, and after some 6 months working at Heathrow [in the old London Centre] I left civvy ATC and spent my life doing Mil ATC. That included a LOT of time in Area control at Eastern Radar [joint mil/civ] and LATCC [joint mil/civ] where I was in the old Joint Ops Room working alongside on the civil sectors. Front-line time as a controller? About 8 years Airfield and 8 years Area, I guess. Then about 8 years in Staff jobs and about 6 doing 'other things'.

Pat42 makes important points - in the RAF you're an officer first. My career eventually took me outside ATC on several occasions as I climbed the 'greasy pole' - and the change from just being an ATCO was very refreshing.
And my well-stamped RAF ATC licence would have been worthless in the civill world.
However, don't fret about Afghanistan - few RAF ATCOs are likely to go there.

What LIFE do you want to lead? Same place forever, doing basically the same job? Or go RAF and move to a new challenge every 2 1/2 years or so?

Last edited by TheTiresome1; 26th Jan 2010 at 18:12.
TheTiresome1 is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 18:23
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 171
Originally Posted by TheTiresome1
Afghanistan - few RAF ATCOs are likely to go there.
What are you basing that statement on?
Hippy is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 18:38
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: An anger-management clinic.
Posts: 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTiresome1
Afghanistan - few RAF ATCOs are likely to go there.
What are you basing that statement on?
Percentages? A couple [?] of lean RAF ATC operations against the number of UK Airfield and Area appointments? I could be wrong, and am more than willing to receive factual correction.

Anyway, it will all be over in one to five years, so the Public is told by some politicians
TheTiresome1 is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 19:18
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UAE
Posts: 204
A small addendum to Yahoo!'s post... In the US, they sometimes call controllers "ATCs", but in the UK it's always ATCO in civilian life. What they call NCO controllers in the RAF, I don't know, but they are just as qualified as officers for membership of GATCO...

I agree with Pat42, Standard Noise and no doubt many others; this is a demanding job and also one in which communication skills are absolutely vital. if you find an interview scary you must ask yourself whether you're truly cut out for it.

Also, the ATCO jobs within NATS are "mobile grades" - you can be posted (in theory) at the whim of the company. Hence, the large numbers of Scots in Swanwick and English types in Aberdeen. The likelihood of being posted to EGLL or EGLC is slight, so why worry about getting college training on your doorstep? In my day, we were paid something like 35p a mile in expenses for a monthly trip home from CATC, and on my course the longest trip home was 504 miles each way.

Having said the above, if you're able to overcome your fear of interviews (and assuming it isn't on account of suffering a dreadful speech impediment...) and show a little confidence, apply to NATS and do your best. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Scooby Don't is offline  
Old 26th Jan 2010, 21:30
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Greystation
Posts: 1,087
504? Pah, top trump with 711!! we had a guy that lived in Wick
5milesbaby is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 08:09
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Hants
Posts: 2,292
I see your Wick and raise you a Stromness in Orkney. Not me but a friend... who of course went home once a month!
anotherthing is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 09:05
  #13 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: london
Age: 32
Posts: 3
Much obliged to all the suggestions and comments. It's been a great help. Thanks.
Greazystringz is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 09:25
  #14 (permalink)  

More than just an ATCO
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Up someone's nose
Age: 70
Posts: 1,770
I see your Wick and raise you a Stromness in Orkney.
Think Global, We had one in Maastricht from Oz.
Lon More is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 13:18
  #15 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Greystation
Posts: 1,087
Theoretical Fiver your way anotherthing

Lon, think NATS only pays out to UK addresses, but we do also have a few Aussies and also a Kiwi - bout as far as we can get I think! Like to see how that could feasibly claim for a monthly trip home
5milesbaby is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 13:35
  #16 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: london
Age: 32
Posts: 3
Has anyone managed to land a job as ATCO without jumping into the NATS bandwagon?
Greazystringz is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 14:40
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 74
Posts: 8,275
Greasy.... lots I would imagine - me for example!

<<What they call NCO controllers in the RAF, I don't know, but they are just as qualified as officers for membership of GATCO...>>

Donkey's years ago NCOs were not allowed to carry out GCAs, as I understood. Result: I once saw a pimply-faced Pilot Officer talking-down jet traffic whilst a WO with about 30 years experience was carrying out mundane tasks. Hopefully things have changed now..
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is online now  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 16:05
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 171
They have, Bren. NCO Contollers hold the same validations as their commissioned colleagues, with the exception of 'supervisor' which is normally reserved for WO and above. NCO controllers are also called ATCOs.

With regard to my previous question of TheTiresome1's comment that "few RAF ATCOs are likely to go [to Aghanistan]"; in my experience, RAF ATCO's seem to be on about a 2 year turnaround for operational deployments. Might not be Afghanistan every time, but more often than not will be. And as for the "all over in 5 years"; well, pass me a bucket of salt .

Anyway, I won't have to worry about it any more. I'm off to join the rail industry . Nice knowing you all, byeeeeee.
Hippy is offline  
Old 27th Jan 2010, 18:00
  #19 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 74
Posts: 8,275
Thanks Hippy... Good luck with the puffers..
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is online now  
Old 1st Aug 2010, 01:08
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Northumberland
Age: 33
Posts: 369
An Oz and Kiwi? Assuming they are 100% oz and 100% kiwi, why are they allowedto join NATS, yet we can't apply to Airways/Airservices (Oz or NZ) without residency? I've pestered them so many times

Anyway, just thinking out loud...
sicky is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.