Air traffic control assessment goes online

- Hants, UK

The first stage assessment for hopeful air traffic controllers is now a purely online affair, says NATS.

The company expects that an online system, as opposed to a face-to-face assessment, will speed up the process, be more cost efficient and encourage more people to apply.

NATS receives around 3,000 applications for each of its four-yearly college intakes. Yet such is the specialist nature of the job, only 25 will actually begin training.

The new online assessment looks at an applicant’s numerical, verbal and spatial reasoning. Those who are successful are then invited to continue through what is a three stage recruitment process.

Claire Burton, NATS Talent Acquisition Manager, said: “It takes a very special person to become an air traffic controller which is why we invest so heavily in finding the right people. However, we have successful controllers from all walks of life, so we would want to encourage applications from all backgrounds".

By making the initial assessment process online only, we want to speed it up, make it more efficient and see more people coming forward for what is a very fulfilling career.”

Training air traffic controllers is a huge investment, with the safety of the flying public being the top priority. NATS invests £750,000 in the training of each new controller and it takes around three years to become fully qualified.

For successful applicants, training takes place firstly at NATS’ head office in Fareham, Hampshire, before being placed either at one of the two air traffic control centres in the UK, or one of the 15 NATS operated airport towers.

NATS guides around 2 million aircraft through some of the busiest and most complex airspace anywhere in the world. Increasingly its expertise is in demand from other countries, with NATS also working in Asia, the United States and the Middle East.

There are still places available for training courses starting this year.

For more information on training to be an air traffic controller, visit


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