There are legal, academic and medical criteria that you need to meet to apply to become a Trainee Air Traffic Controller.

Do you meet the legal, academic and medical requirements ?

Do you meet the legal, academic and medical requirements ?

You must ensure you meet all necessary criteria before beginning the online application process.


Legally, you need to be eligible to work in the UK. If you are unsure if you are eligible, check this Home Office guidance.


Academically, it is essential you are over 18 and have at least five GCSEs or equivalent at Grade C or above, including English and Maths.


As well as having a good level of physical and mental fitness, you must satisfy the basic medical requirements set down by the Civil Aviation Authority for a European Class 3 medical certificate.

More details are provided below.


You should have normal blood pressure and no evidence of heart disease, or disease of the cardiovascular system.


There should be no significant respiratory disease. A past history of asthma may be acceptable but significant symptoms at time of application are likely to disqualify you.

Gastro Intestinal Tract

This should be free of any significant disease.

Metabolic, Nutritional and Endocrine Diseases

Those with diabetes – whether or not they require insulin – will now be considered. Obesity may disqualify you. A Body Mass Index below 35 is a normal requirement for a Class 3 certificate.

Urinary System

There should be no symptoms of urinary system conditions.


The following conditions will disqualify you:

  • Progressive disease of the nervous system
  • Epilepsy – current or past history. If seizure free for 10 years without medication this may be acceptable
  • Conditions with a high propensity for cerebral dysfunction

Visual Standards

You must have normal colour vision and your visual acuity must be 6/9 or better in each eye separately and 6/6 together. This visual acuity can be achieved using correction but there are limits on the amount of correction required. An initial applicant must make no errors when tested on the first 15 plates of the standard 24 plate Ishihara Test (a series of numbers outlined by different coloured dots, easily seen by someone with normal colour vision).

If you fail these you will need to pass the Colour Assessment and Diagnosis (CAD) test (a computer-based test which quantifies the degree of your colour vision deficiency). This test is available at the UK CAA (charges apply). Correction shall not exceed + 5 or – 6 dioptres equivalent spherical error in each eye.

Cylindrical correction shall not exceed 2 dioptres in each eye. The difference between the amount of correction required for each eye shall not exceed 2 dioptres.

If you have had any form of eye surgery including squint correction or laser visual correction, then please be aware of the following: Even if the pre-operative correction is within the acceptable range, applicants will be referred to a specialist appointed by the CAA for further examination.

However, if the pre-operative correction is outside of the CAA limits of + 5 or – 6 dioptres, then a Class 3 certificate will not be granted even if the post-operative correction is normal. Please use this calculator if you are unsure whether you meet the visual criteria.

Auditory Standards

There should be no hearing loss in either ear, when tested separately, of more than 20 dB (HL) at any of the frequencies 500, 1,000 and 2,000 Hz, or of more than 35 dB (HL) at 3,000 Hz.

Psychiatric Conditions

You will be disqualified if you have an ongoing psychiatric illness or currently use psychiatric medication such as antidepressants. A history of psychiatric illness or past use of psychiatric medication such as antidepressants may be acceptable after specialist assessment.

Anthropometric Considerations

Your physique must allow you to carry out your duties at your workstation without causing health problems. If you’re outside the height range 151.4cm – 186.9cm, you may require an anthropometric assessment.


The role of an Air Traffic Controller is a mobile grade, which means you will be required to work anywhere in the UK. Here are our primary UK locations.

Drugs and Alcohol

Due to the safety critical nature of an Air Traffic Controller’s job, we have a strict policy regarding the level of consumption of alcohol and a zero tolerance to the use of ‘recreational’ drugs.


The above is a summary for quick guidance. You should be aware that you need to meet the standards of a EURO 3 certificate for entry into ATCO training with NATS. If you have any queries on whether you will pass a EURO 3 certificate, please contact the Occupational Health Department at NATS who can answer your queries directly:medical.reception@nats.co.uk

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