Have you ever dreamed about becoming an air traffic controller, if the answer is yes then this is the place for you.
Ever since I watched the movie: "Ground control", I dreamed about becoming an ATCO (common abbreviation for Air Traffic Controller), but never really
considered pursuing that career, mostly because there is no such school or training facility in my country (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and I never considered
going abroad. Then, finaly when I was finishing my high school education, and air traffic conroll was no where on the radar anymore, I was googling for
stock broker courses, and than out of no where (i really dont remember how) I stumbled upon this page where they were offering ATCO training, and
to make things better, they were paying for it and plus giving you a monthly allowance! To good to be true?! Not at all. The page is very real and
the company is very real. The name of the company is EUROCONTROL - European organisation for safety of air navigation -
and you can visit it on eurocontrol.int
You can read more about the job, application etc... here
I created this blog, mostly because I wanted to break any prejudice anyone may have about eurocontrol, and because I went through their selection phases
got droped in the end after the interview (I will try again
in two years), but never the less I think that this is great oportunity for anyone whit ATCO aspirations, or even
if you never were thinking of becoming an ATCO, after you see how much they are payed, you might want to reconsider. All in all, I blew my chance, and
I cant regret it enough and I am here to help you as much as I can not to blow yours. In the next lines I will go over their selection procedures and
First what you need to do is to follow this link, there you will need to fill in a form with your basic information.
After a few days... how many you ask? one, two, week a month, I dont know, but you WILL get the e-mail with a login, password and a link to the
application page. There you will need to fill in a form regarding you, your education, english knowledge etc...
When you finish with the form, you will need to scan your school leaving diploma and sand it to them by e-mail.
After some time you will get an email with a document attached which you will need to print out (1 page) and take it to your onchologyst.
Yes you will need to do an eye exam, nothing serious. The doucment will be in english and your oncologyst will know how to fill it.
You will need to send the document to them by fax or email.
2. Phase one testing:
If your application is satisfying and your eye exam, you will get an email, with a date to attend your phase one testing in
Maastricht - Netherlands, some doucuments that explain pretty much everything you will need to know.
You will need to provide your own transportation, bus, plane, train..., but remember to take your ticket with you to eurocontrol because they
will need it in order to remunarate your ticket. Yes they will pay you back your money that you gave for the ticket + 10 euros for getting
from the train station to the hotel. They will also pay a room for you at the tulip inn motel at the Maastricht Aachen airport (where eurocontrol
muac is located) and taxi and the breakfast on the day of testing. Be sure to bring some 50 euros to eat, you wont need more, or your card.
Finally when the D day comes and you get to Maastricht bus-train station, you will go to station G, you cant miss it. Dont worry and wait for a bus
with the number 59 on it, it comes every hour. Get on the bus, tell the driver that you need a ticket to the airport, they all speak english
dont worry (youll see what I mean), the ticket will cost you 4.50 euros in one way. When you get to the airport (some 20 mins), the tulip inn hotel will be
right across the bus station, cant miss it. Go to the hotel reception tell them you have a room booked for your name by eurocontrol. they will
give you a room key and tell you where to find the room. They are all very polite and nice. just a word of advice, dont take the breakfast if
they offer it to you, you will probably pay it some 15-20 euros, but its not worth it believe me and be sure
not to get to the hotel before 11-12 am, because they probably wont have any rooms available (I had
to wait (10-12). Go to your room have a nice shower, get a good night sleep (if you came the day before the testing). On the day of the testing, get
out of the hotel at about 8 o'clock am and you will see many candidates awaiting for the ride to eurocontrol (there were about 20 candidates at my
testing phase). Go out and meet some of them, have a nice chit chat, and loosen up, dont wory about them, none of them probably speaks english
as their mother language and you are all pretty much on the same page. A taxi '(mini wan) will come to pick you up at about 8:10, and get you to the MUAC (Maastricht Upper Area Controll Center).
At the MUAC you will get a key-card which you will need to carry with you. After a short wait in the lobby, someone will come to pick you all up,
probably Willems Imke or Sarah Teed, two ladies, very polite, they work in human resources. They will take you to the cantine where they will
brief you in on the situation and collect your tickets and bank account details (you will get this document by email). Then
they will leave you there and you will have brakfast and talk some more. My advice is to talk as much as you can and meet as much people as you can, all
in all it will be a very nice experience. You wil also be instructed to go back to the lobby after you finish the breakfast, by 9:00 o'clock.
Then one of them will pick you all up and you will follow them up the stairs to a room filled with computers. You will need go to the desk that has your
name on it and the person from the HR will explain you everything about the tests you are about to take. Here is a link for explanation of this phase
1 testing: wikipedia - feast, click here for more info on the tests. Once you finish you will all go back to the cantine and you will wait for the
results. Whoever passes will get a document, looking like this, that they passed the FEAST test, which means that they are staying for the second
part of the feast test (more info here), that will take place later that day. In my group only six of us stayed after the first part. Next thing
on the schedule is lunch. After the lunch you will take your second part of the test in the same room. When you are finished taxi will take you back
to the hotel and you will get the results by email, probably the next day. If you pass, you will get an invitation for the phase 2 testing which
will probably take place a few weeks later.
3. Phase 2 testing and the interview (phase 3)
The whole procedure of getting to hotel and muac is the same and you should be very comfortable concerning that matter by now.
When you get to muac, the procedure is the same, lobby, cantine, tickets... only this time there will be six of you in the group and you will
have to do 3 exercises/tests during the day. This time there will be no computers, only pen, paper and communication.
During one of the exercises you will get a paper with a list of 3 planes wich all need to conduct an emergency landing on to the same airport, the reason
for emergency landing will be stated next to each airplane including the type of the airplane. You will need to order the planes for landing by
discussing with the group, your teamword capabilities will be assessed among other things. Just remember, safety first. During this exercise you
will constantly be getting new information, ex. runways are changed, fuel is leaking from one of the planes etc... so you will probably have to
change the order of the landing more times than one. Remember to be comunicative, to give good pointers and valid arguments, have in mind the size of the
aircraft, souls on board, remaining fuel and most important, safety first, avoid risking any lives, but if you really have to, I mean REALLY, risk as
less lives as possible. Example of the exercise here
Document from EC describing this exercise here
The second exercise will consist of you (alone
- not in a group) making a flight plan for getting an airplane from one point to another through multiple waypoints. You will be
fed with new data just like in the first exercise and you will probably have to change your plan. Remember to go for the most cost effective route,
which means, shortest distance, cruising altitude (saves fuel), but never forget - safety first, never risk an airplane in any circumstances, even if
it means going around and spending more fuel. When you are finished, you will have to present your flight plan to the jury and explain why you
choose that route, and you will be asked questions. Remember to have in mind the scale of the map when you count the distance of your flight.
After you have all finished your presentation, you will be put in a group once again and you will have to agree and make only one flight plan
by combining all of your individual plans - teamwork once again.
The final exercise you will have to do will be done in pairs and it will involve some techincal drawings (like gears...). One of you will get a
piece of paper and a pen, and the other will have a drawing. You will be sited back to back. The person with the drawing will have to give instructions
to the other one on how to draw the picture piece by piece and they can only say: understood, or repeat that. After the time is up, you will switch places
and draw another picture. Try using headings to explain the picture ex. Draw a circle at heading 090 at about 10 cm from the center of the paper (or
another object allready drawn).
If you are successfull you will be invited for the interview,
probably next morning if there are no problems. If you are invited, be sure to dress nice, nothing to fancy, pants and a shirt at least.
One more thing. You will be required to fill up an online questionnaire about your personality before the interview. They will use it to get a good profile of your personality in order to
better assess you on the interview.
The Operations Room
After you have finished your testing, your group will (probably) visit the famous Operations Room.
I cant describe the feeling I had when I steped into that room. All those people, monitors, it looks like you are aboard of voyager's bridge. Then I got that
feeling where I realised that this could acutally be the last time I will ever step into this room, or I will earn my retirement pension in it.
Unfortunatelly, I will probably never see it again except on these pictures.
But anyway, you will be divided in groups by two, and you will be asigned to a certain sector, probably with two controllers working on it and you will spend
probably about 30 mins there. I advise you to pay atention as much as you can, and ask everything you want to know, they will be happy to explain everything
to you and if you take your time to get bussy with ATCWindows you will probably understand almost everything you see.
The reason I am telling you this is that you will be asked about your visit to the ops room on the interview, just remember as much as you can. (Man I still
cant figure it why they dropped me)
3.1. The (in)famous interview
Ok, lets get down to the bussiness. The basic misconception people have about this stage is that the interview decides everything, which
is not true. All the data about your testing, involving FEAST tests, phase 2 exercises, online questionaire will be involved in the decision making
process, concerning wether you will get dropped or not. They will review all the information they have about you including the interview and
decide if they find you suitable for eurocontrol. So, conclusion: Interview is not the only factor in the selection procedure, but it plays a major
role in it, and a good interview will be of a great help but it does not mean that not too good of an interview will get you dropped out if you
were outstanding in the rest of the selection exercieses.
The interview lasts about 60-90 minutes. The interview board will be consisted of three members, one active controller, one psychologist, and one
The controller guy will ask you questions about the job of an air traffic controller, and this is where simulators come in a handy. I think
I made a pretty good impression in this part of an interview because I did my homework concerning ATCO job.
If you go on and read about simulators (which I strongly recommend), I advise you to download ATCCWindows and take your time to read the manual.
It will explain you almost everything you need to know about the job of an ATCO, and it will explain you how to use the application.
If you are passionate and patient enough to go trough the manuals, I guarantee you it will be well worth it. You will get to taste the real deal.
You will get to play a realistic simulation of Air traffic controll center and get to see what conrollers go trough every day. Go to simulators page for
more and read the instructions.
After this part you will be asked questions about your life, your time at school, who do you live with, about your job (if you have/had one).
After my experince with the interview board I came to a conclusion that you will be tested in terms of
how well will you manage to beat your homesickness. If you have ever been away from home for a long time, I think that it is a deffinitive plus.
Next thing, your teamwork skills - if you were ever a part of a team, again, a plus.
One more thing I noticed is that (in my opinion) they are more looking for a social person, as well as a machine. You need to be very communicative,
very good team player, very fast, very stress resistive, coldheaded and be more of a PRACTICAL and NOT THEORETICAL person.
In the final part you will be given two or three problems (exercieses) written on a paper (ex. one plane is moving at the speed of 240 kts, the other
one is moving int the opposite direction at the speed of...) which you will need to solve on a blackboard infront of them. This is where your
math profficiency comes to play. You need to know what is a knot, nautical mile, km/h, feet etc... (get bussy around simulators and you will be cool).
My final advice is that you stay honest, and dont calculate too much about what answers they are expecting from you. Just answer truthfully and youll
be fine. One more thing, don't get anxious or nervous before the interview, the guys are cool and they will make you feel comfortable. Have a cup of
coffee and stay cool.
PS: Very important!!! Try to learn as much as you can about EUROCONTROL in general. Eurocontrol is not MUAC, MUAC is just part of eurocontrol, their
hedquarters is located in Brusselles, there are also other parts of eurocontrol, like CFMU, CRCO, DCMAC, EEC, IANS. At least be aware of these other parts of
EC, what do they do, where are they located. You can download .pdf files from their website like eurocontrol hystory, or eurocontrol fact sheet... Download
as much as you can, the more you know, the bigger your chances are. Also be sure to take all the brochures from eurocontrol lobby and study them.
Feel free to post any questions you might have and visit PPRUNE forum, there is alot of great info there!
Good luck !!!
More comming up: I will try to make some copies of the real FEAST test or something very close to it which you will be able to try out in your browser.
Your comments are welcome!