Leading Hand Helicopter Controller (RFA)

Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As a Leading Hand Helicopter Controller in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary you’ll be the critical link between our rotary aircraft operating from ships and shore bases, including your own. Day and night you’ll play a crucial part in coordinating their flight patterns, including launching and landing, in all weather – all over the world.

Ensuring the safety of our aircraft and their crew is vital and you’ll be the first point of contact in an emergency. It’s a demanding role, but that’s what comes with great responsibility. You’ll be at the forefront of the ship’s operational capability, assisting the Operations Officer in all areas of aviation.

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • You’ll advise on all things aviation, using knowledge, insight and courage of your convictions to ensure each mission is safe and successful.
  • Work with some of the most sophisticated kit on the planet, including our Wildcat helicopters.
  • You’ll have important input into crucial decisions and judgments about aircraft safety, along with the aircrew and engineers.
  • Travel the world as a key part of a team that keeps the Royal Navy active and able to defend the nation’s interests.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Helicopter Controller (Non-Tactical)

Skills you'll develop

  • How to keep our aviation missions safe using your extensive technical knowledge of our world-class kit
  • How to use your high level of responsibility to our advantage

What you'll need


  • You’ll need to be aged 18, there's no upper age limit
  • ENG1 Unrestricted for Worldwide Sea-Service medical certificate, which can be obtained in the role
  • Upon joining you will be required to undergo an aviation medical in addition to your ENG1
  • Current Helicopter Controller or Air Traffic Controller qualification
  • You must be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen, or a Dual National

Skills and interests

  • Working as part of a team
  • A sense of adventure
  • A confident leader

  • Always calm under pressure
  • Working with aircraft
  • A thorough and diligent approach to work
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

  • Submit an application

    Once you've registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form

  • Naval Service Recruitment Test (NSRT)

    You'll be tested on general reasoning , verbal ability, numeracy and mechanical comprehension

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

Initial training

Your Royal Fleet Auxiliary career begins with basic safety training at HMS Excellent. You will then go onto Helicopter training at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton. If you are already qualified and up to date, you will be able to proceed without training, if you are qualified but not up to date with the latest requirements, you will go to RNAS Yeovilton for update training. The discipline, teamwork, organisational, firefighting and weapon handling skills you learn here will stay with you right through your career.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

To qualify as a Leading Hand Helicopter Controller you need to complete a 5 week course at Yeovil.

After training you will spend time at sea where you will strengthen your training and gain invaluable experience of working within a ship’s Operations Room.