The AC Rating
The Air Traffic Controller rating was originally known as an Air Controlman, established in 1948 from the now disestablished ratings of Specialist (Y) (Control Tower Operators), Radarman, Specialist (X) (Air Station Operations Desk (Time Shack), Specialist (X) (Operations--Plotting and Chart Work), and Specialist (V) (Transport Airmen).
The Navy's computerized personnel system associates the rating name with an alphanumeric Navy Occupational Specialty (NOS) code. For AC, the NOS is A400.
Navy Air Traffic Controllers (AC) perform duties similar to civilian air traffic controllers. Navy ACs are responsible for safely and effectively directing aircraft operating from airfields or the flight decks of aircraft carriers.
Standards for entry into the AC field are high, but once accepted into the field, Navy ACs enjoy a demanding and highly rewarding career.
Air Traffic Controller "A" school is located in Pensacola, Florida. The school is approximately 20 weeks long. The AC rating requires a minimum of a five-year (60 month) enlistment obligation.
Air Traffic Controller - (NOS A400)
Air Traffic Controllers play a key role in the effective use of Naval air-power throughout the world in operational and training environments. They also control the movement of aircraft and vehicles on airfield taxiways and issue flight instructions to pilots by radio.
Air Traffic Controllers provide air traffic control services in air traffic control towers, radar air traffic control facilities, fleet area control and surveillance facilities, and air operations offices ashore and afloat. They operate radio communication systems and light signals, and direct aircraft under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).
ACs operate surveillance radar, precision radar, data link approach systems, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment and other air traffic control equipment. They respond to emergency air traffic situations.
Navy Air Traffic Controllers also maintain current flight planning information and reference material, and assist the pilots in preparation and processing flight plans.
Career Sea - Shore Rotation
Air Traffic Controller is a shore-intensive rating. Sailors in shore-intensive ratings do not have career paths defined by a sea-shore rotation and can expect to spend more than half their career on shore duty assignments. Sailors are encouraged to contact their community manager or detailer for specific career path information.
Air Traffic Controller shore tour lengths at particular shore UICs are dependent upon the tower classification and the time frame required to become qualified for tower operations. Sailors in the AC community can expect to serve more than half their careers in operational support tours ashore. Every effort will be made to ensure Sailors are afforded equitable opportunities to serve at sea to enhance career progression. Sailors are encouraged to contact their community manager or detailers for additional career path information.
Qualifications, Interests, and Working Environment
Applicants for the Air Traffic Controller rating must be at least 18 years old and must pass a flight physical prior to entering "A" school. The ability to speak clearly is essential in this rating. Applicants must have no speech impediment and be able to clearly speak English. Applicants will be required to pass a Read-Aloud test as part of their flight physical.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens eligible for a security clearance and have no history of drug abuse (no waivers permitted). Normal hearing and normal color perception are required. Vision must be better than 20/200 and correctable to 20/20.
Applicants should have an interest in aviation and working with or around aircraft. They should prefer to do detailed work and work as a team member. Applicants should have a good memory and should be able to perform quick mental math calculations. They should be comfortable with computers and with graphical orientations such as on maps or charts.
ACs usually work in clean, office-like environments at naval air stations and on-board aircraft carriers. They work closely with others, are closely supervised, and do mostly mental work. The AC ASVAB Test requirement.
The opportunities to enter the AC rating are excellent for qualified candidates. Currently, about 2,500 men and women work in the AC rating.
Personnel in the Air Traffic Controller rating are paid allowances (BAH, BAS, etc. if eligible) and billet pay (sea pay, flight pay, submarine pay, etc. if eligible), and military pay based on years of service and paygrade.
The American Council on Education recommends that semester hour credits be awarded in the vocational certificate or lower-division bachelor's/associates degree categories for courses taken in this rating on air traffic control and management, and federal aviation regulations.
Written by NCCM Thomas Goering USN(RET).
Date Page Updated: September 21, 2018.