Hi, my name is Michael Snook, and I am an Aircraft Control Position Operator based in the simulator at our Whiteley office in Fareham. As NATS is currently recruiting for more people to join the team in the same role as mine, I thought it would be helpful to give a bit of an overview about what my job is and why I enjoy it so much.

In the simplest of terms, my role entails working within an air traffic simulation environment as a pilot to provide a realistic service to trainee and qualified controllers. It involves verbally responding to commands from air traffic controllers as well as input of aircraft commands into a touch screen computer. The overall outcome is to provide an accurate simulation of air traffic flow across the UK airspace for training purposes. There are multiple reasons that a controller may need training whether it be to help them validate on a sector, to refresh their skills after time off or to help train on new airspace or systems.

I first heard about the Aircraft Control Position Operator vacancy through a friend who had worked in the role previously. I thought it sounded like such an amazing job that I applied the same night and I’ve not looked back since.

My typical shift pattern is six days on and then three days off rotation which does include some weekend working. A normal pattern is three mornings from 6:45am – 2:15pm and then three afternoons of 2:15pm – 9:30pm followed by the three days off.  For those who prefer not to work shifts, there are also some Aircraft Control Position Operator roles which work on a Monday to Friday pattern within our Initial Training Organisation on a 8:00am – 4:00pm shift.

The great thing about being an ACPO is that as well as there being ample other roles which you can progress into, there are also many opportunities to develop and upskill within the role itself. I recently qualified to be able to work with training the military as well which is something that I would really recommend doing as it is super interesting.

I love my job and certainly don’t plan on going anywhere soon. There are endless opportunities to progress, not just within the team but within the entirety of NATS, and the simulation team are all so supportive, we have such a laugh together (whilst doing our jobs to the best of our ability obviously).

I would 100% recommend this job to anyone who is interested in learning more about aviation and being part of an amazing team. Anyone who wants an enjoyable job with no two days the same and endless opportunities to progress should apply. Also, if you absolutely hate getting stuck in rush hour traffic then this job is for you as fortunately, with the shift times, we don’t ever get stuck in any!

Interested in applying to be an Aircraft Control Position Operator? You can find out more information and apply here.


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Lovely description,I have 4 years experience as an atc and I’ve applied for simulator role,fingers cross 🙂



Warren brown MRAeS

Very good information. Its an excellent position.




Sounds amazing. How long is training and progression through to competency?




Very helpful to read and understand the role in more detail. I’ve got my assessment in a couple weeks – excited!


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