Published on January 12th, 2020 | by Mark Dwyer


IAA Student Air Traffic Controller Programme Open for Applications

Air Traffic Controllers are responsible for the safe, orderly and expeditious movement of air traffic on and in the vicinity of airports and in the airspace for which Ireland is responsible. Air Traffic Controllers are recruited through the Student Controller Programme and applicants must be at least 19 years of age. They must also have passed at least five subjects in the Leaving Certificate (including Mathematics) with Grade C in at least two higher level papers or hold a comparable award at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

Applications are accepted on an on-going basis however applications for the current competition close on 31st January 2020. Currently the Recruitment Process of Student Air Traffic Controllers has 4 Stages.  Applicants will be required to pass each stage of the Selection Process in order to proceed to the next stage.

Stage 1 – Screening Process (January-February 2020)

Screening of applications to determine eligibility against minimum requirements. On-Line Assessment will form part of the screening process, to issue early February 2020.

Stage 2 – Air Traffic Controller Computer Based Aptitude Tests (Monday 24 to Saturday 29 February 2020)

These tests comprise of two parts.

Part 1 – FEAST Test (First European Air Traffic Controller Selection Test) – duration 2hrs 20mins.

The Test Battery consists of a set of tests which examine a candidate’s ability in regard to a number of items including the following:

  • Heading and Range Test
  • English Listening and Comprehension
  • Planning Ability
  • Sort Task
  • Alertness in Simple and Multi-Tasking Situations Test
  • Visualisation Test

Part 2 – DART Test (Dynamic ATC Radar Test) – duration 2hrs 10mins.

Applicants who obtain a sufficiently high standard on the Part 1 FEAST Test are called for Part 2 DART test, to be held later on the same day. The DART Test is a computer based aptitude test, aimed at measuring your multi-tasking abilities.  The test will require you to perform a number of different tasks at the same time like in the job of an Air Traffic Controller. The test is designed for beginners with no background in ATC. Applicants who achieve a sufficiently high standard in the Part 2 DART Test will be called for work strengths profiling and may be called for a group interview/exercise.

 Stage 3 – Work Strengths Profiling and Group Interview/Exercise (March and April 2020)

Part 1 – Work Strengths Profiling – completed online, to issue early March 2020

Part 2 – Group Interview/ Exercise – Monday 27 April to Friday 1 May 2020

Applicants will be required to attend for a group exercise.  This is a simulation exercise that requires applicants to operate as a group to address a given set of circumstances.

Stage 4 – Final Interview (Monday 25 to Friday 29 May 2020)

Interviews for the final stage of the recruitment process will be competency based. Applicants will be expected to have some basic knowledge of the Irish Aviation Authority and the Air Traffic Control Service and the various other activities in which it is involved.  Most of this information is contained on the IAA website.

All applicants will be required to produce a Valid Passport for identification purposes throughout stages 2-4.  All applicants for final interview will be sent a CV template to complete and submit with proof of education.

Medical Eligibility Requirements (June, July, August 2020)

Applicants who are deemed successful to participate in the Student Air Traffic Controller programme must undergo a comprehensive Medical Examination.  This will be carried out by IAA designated Doctors.  The medical criteria meet international civil aviation standards outlined here. The cost of the medical will be borne by the IAA.

Security Clearances

Full Security Clearance will be carried out for all students who are offered a place on the student programme.

Reference Checking

Reference checking may be carried out on all those who are offered a student placement.

How do I apply to become a Student Air Traffic Controller?

You must complete the online application form. The Authority will review all applications received on a periodic basis, and based on the number of applications will invite those applicants who meet the minimum requirements to begin the selection process.

Is there an age limit in becoming an Air Traffic Controller?

There is no upper age limit. However, you must be 21 years of age to be a licensed Air Traffic Controller and because the training takes up to 2 years an applicant must be at least 19 years of age when applying.

Where does IAA Air Traffic Control training take place?

The initial training takes place in the Authority’s Training Centre at Ballycasey Cross, Shannon, Co Clare. Students are then assigned to any of the three state airports (Cork, Dublin or Shannon) for practical training.

Do I have a choice of which airport I will be assigned to for the practical training?

No, students are assigned to Stations based on the needs at the time.

Do I get paid while participating in the Student Controller Programme?

With effect from Student Controller Programme 17 Class (SCP17), students will receive a student allowance of €150 per week for the duration of training, until the commencement of OJTI.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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