Opinion No 06/2022

Enhanced mobility options and streamlined qualifications for air traffic controllers

The main objective of this Opinion is to maintain a high and uniform level of safety in the provision of air traffic services by ensuring continued alignment of the qualification scheme of air traffic controllers (ATCOs) with the recognised best practices in aviation. This Opinion aims especially at providing enhanced mobility options for instructors, assessors and student ATCOs, simplifying the rating and rating endorsement structure and updating the initial training requirements, together with a controlled mechanism for the conversion of national military ATCO licences into student ATCO licences issued in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) 2015/340 (‘ATCO Regulation’).

Accordingly, this Opinion proposes less complicated provisions for the change of competent authority and for the exchange of licences for instructors, assessors, and student ATCOs. It proposes to reduce the number of ratings from six to five and the number of rating endorsements from nine to four. The proposed amendments concerning initial training are expected to result in a reduced number of training courses, in the removal of some subject objectives, in the modification of some topics and subtopics as well as in certain editorial improvements. Furthermore, the national conversion report established by each Member State will serve as a basis for the crediting of the training received by the ATCOs during their military service in the Member States.

Updating the initial training requirements taking into account new technological developments and operational changes are expected to ensure that a high level of safety will be maintained. Easing the licence administration for both air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and national competent authorities (NCAs) are expected to result in efficiency gains. Member States will be able to positively respond to conversion requests from military ATCOs that are interested in obtaining civil licences, while taking account of their prior training. This opportunity will also contribute to a more flexible use of the available ATCO resources and thus to a better air traffic capacity management across Europe. ANSPs and training organisations will benefit from the enhanced mobility and more flexible use of instructors and assessors, and the simplified processes will facilitate the mobility of ATCOs. NCAs are expected to benefit from the alignment of the authority requirements with those in Regulation (EU) 2017/373 (‘ATM/ANS Regulation’).