Aircraft Controller

Service:Fleet Air Arm
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Aircraft controller

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

 As an Aircraft Controller (AC) you will play a pivotal role in helping enable the Royal Navy's front-line aviation capability at sea. At the heart of the ship, you will be a key member of the war fighting team within the Operations Room. You will be the only person on board responsible for the safety of all Rotary Wing aircraft under your control. This involves directing the ships airborne weapon carrier from a radar screen to achieve the mission success. In addition, you will act as the ship's aviation advisor during all flying serials answering directly to the ship's Command Team. A challenging but rewarding role.

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Work with some of the most sophisticated aircraft in the world in all environments, including the Wildcat and Merlin helicopters as well as the P8 Poseidon. As your career progresses, you’ll gain additional qualifications which will enable you to work with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
  • You will be the on-board Aviation expert, advising Command and using your knowledge and tactical insight to ensure mission success
  • Utilise your skills, expertise and knowledge to work with NATO and international partners around the world
  • Compile and deliver flying briefs to the ship's Command/Aviation team

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Apprenticeship Level 3 in Data Information Management
  • Foundation degree in Aerospace Management on successful completion of JATCC
  • Chartered Management Institute Level 3 qualification in Coaching & Mentoring with the opportunity for Level 5 as your career progresses
  • Opportunity to gain human factors qualifications
  • Funding towards study or a qualification of your choice

Skills you'll develop

  • Regardless of age, background or educational achievement the AC branch will support you every step of the way, allowing you to grow in confidence your multi-tasking ability, master communication and leadership skills, and realise your full potential. It's never too early or late to live life to the full and experience challenges.

Career progression

What you'll need


  • You’ll need to be aged 18 to 34
  • No qualifications are required for this role
  • You must be a British/British Dual National
  • You need to be a minimum height of 151.5cm
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Must pass Specialist Aviation Medical at OASC, RAF Cranwell
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • To be independent and adaptable                
  • To be out going, committed and driven
  • A high level of spatial awareness
  • A passion for aviation
  • An adventurous spirit
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest, we’ll be in touch to discuss your options

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role. This is normally conducted using your own device over the Shine video platform

  • Medical and eye tests

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

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Candidate Preparation Course (CPC)

    This four-day induction to life in the Royal Navy, including a Swimming Test and a fitness assessment, is a pass or fail course

  • Start training

    Once you’ve passed a Security Check, you’ll be offered a place at HMS Raleigh

Initial training

Your Royal Navy career begins with 10 weeks’ basic training at HMS Raleigh, a shore base in Torpoint, Cornwall. The discipline, teamwork, organisational, firefighting and weapon handling skills you learn here will stay with you right through your career.

Aim to get yourself as fit as possible before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in shape. There’s also a swimming test, so if you can’t swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

After phase one training you will spend the next few months developing your professional skills and knowledge across a range of courses intertwined within your Leading Aircraft Controller’s Qualifying Course (LACPQC). 

You will start your phase two training at HMS COLLINGWOOD for 10 weeks, where you will learn all about the on-board Command System and how to operate and transmit on radios, through classroom and practical assessments in a simulator. You will receive basic Leadership training during ARLC and how to survive life at sea during Basic Sea Survival training carried out at the RN’s purpose-built facility within HMS EXCELLENT. 

Your next phase of training will be carried out at the Royal Navy School of Aircraft Control (RNSAC) located within RNAS Yeovilton (Somerset). For the next 15 weeks, you will learn the basics of controlling an Air System from a radar screen, how to react and respond to basic aircraft emergencies, how to interact and liaise with the people on-board the ship and within the Ops Room as well as gainfully employing your Air System tactically under various threats within the maritime domain.  

Once you have mastered these basics the tempo of training will increase and you will return to HMS COLLINGWOOD for a further 14 weeks to complete your final phase of the course within the Aviation Training Element (AvTE) at the Maritime Warfare School (MWS) (in Portsmouth) where you will integrate and apply all that you have learned into bigger and more complicated scenarios within the Ship’s Operations Room and Command Team environment with a live assessment phase (1 week) at sea within this period.  

Once qualified as a controller, attention will be focused on the Leadership aspect of your role on board. This is where attendance at the Royal Navy Leadership Academy (RNLA – located within HMS COLLINGWOOD) is essential. This 4-week intense Leadership course will help you build upon what leadership skills you have gained thus far and apply them into different and more challenging/dynamic situations to adequately prepare you to be an effective Leading Hand employed onboard His Majesty’s Frigate or Destroyer at sea on completion.