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Training and selection

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Training as an Air Traffic Services Specialist

For Airways International’s air traffic control training programme, we go through a robust selection process looking for people with the ability to visualise and react to situations in the right kind of way. Are you:

  • decisive and goal focused?
  • able to adapt quickly to changing situations?
  • an excellent communicator and team player?
  • able to learn theory and apply it in a practical situation?
  • able to mentally picture objects moving in three dimensions?


If you believe you can answer yes to all of the above, then you may have the skills and attributes we’re looking for to successfully train in air traffic services!

Applications for October 2024 intake now open

Applications for our training programme starting in October 2024 are now open – click “Apply now” below to complete our application form.  

Applications close on 31 July 2024.

Are you eligible to apply for the training programme?

You need to meet the following eligibility criteria in order to train as an air traffic services specialist in New Zealand:

  • Be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, or Australian citizen
  • Be aged at least 20 (for ATC) or 18 (for FSO) when you start training (due to Civil Aviation Authority licensing requirements)
  • Qualified to a minimum of Level 2 NCEA pass (12 credits pass in Maths at Level 1 and 8 credits in English at Level 2) and 42 other credits at Level 3 or equivalent (Alternatively, we accept a New Zealand PPL or CPL, and we consider your work experience.)
  • Okay about working shift work, and willing to relocate anywhere within New Zealand
  • Able to meet the requirements for a Civil Aviation Authority class three medical certificate, and ‘fit and proper person’. 

How do I get selected?

Training to become an ATC or FSO is both demanding and rewarding. Making the cut for the training programme is not easy!  We use our carefully designed selection process to offer training to those people with the exact skills and attributes we need.

The intent of this robust process is to maximise students’ chance of success and achievement of their full potential.

With only 2-3% of the global population possessing the competencies to become an ATC, selecting the right people from the start saves you, the student, time and money by improving your chances for training success.

The selection process may take 6 to 12 months, with two training intakes annually – usually in April and October.

The selection process

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Apply online

Complete your online application, including some information about yourself, and evidence of your qualifications. We’ll then review, and select candidates to take through to testing.

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Aptitude testing

We’ll assess your aptitude via a range of online tests and assessments – covering detail accuracy, spatial awareness, memory, multi-tasking exercises, and a personality assessment.

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Assessment Centre

If selected, you’ll attend a one-day assessment in Christchurch (we will support your travel expenses). You’ll take further aptitude tests, be assessed in group and individual activities, and undertake an interview. 

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Selection

Following successful reference checks, you will be offered a place on an upcoming training programme, subject to a criminal check, drug testing and meeting the Civil Aviation Authority’s medical requirements.

What will the training involve?

Once you are selected to join a training programme, you will be enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Air Traffic Services (Level 5) and the New Zealand Diploma in Air Traffic Services (Level 6).

Training begins online via self-directed learning for a period of four weeks. You will then join us at the Airways Training Centre in Christchurch for further theory and practical training – for eight to nine months (ATC) or six weeks (FSO).

ATC students spend six weeks undertaking theoretical training in a small class environment, followed by 25 weeks training in our state-of-the-art simulators, to apply the theory learned.

Both ATC and FSO training is intensive. For the period of training, you need to be able to support yourself financially.

Costs of the training programme

If you are selected for ATC/FSO training, the current fees are:

  • FSO training: Level 5 – NZ Certificate in Air Traffic Services & Level 6 – NZ Diploma in Air Traffic Services:  $10,000 incl GST
  • ATC training, Part 1:  Level 5 – NZ Certificate in Air Traffic Services & Level 6 – NZ Diploma in Air Traffic Services:  $14,000 incl GST
  • ATC training, Part 2: Level 7 – NZ Diploma in Air Traffic Services (Field training):  $7,000 incl GST


Financial support is available to eligible students via a student loan from StudyLink, and the Fees-Free tertiary education scheme. You may also be eligible for a student allowance and other benefits.

Want to know more?

Read our detailed FAQs for further info, and to determine if this training programme is the right fit for you.

Where will I complete field training?

When you start field training, you will relocate to one of Airways’ towers or surveillance centres for four to nine months to complete your Level 7 Diploma (the New Zealand Diploma in Air Traffic Services). The time spent in field training is dependent on the location and your learning capacity.

Locations for field training vary for each course, however these locations typically include Rotorua, Palmerston North, Napier, Invercargill and New Plymouth Towers.  For FSO, training is either in the Tower at Paraparaumu, Milford Sound, or in our surveillance centre in Christchurch or Auckland. Other regional towers are also often used as field training locations.

Students are advised of the training locations during their initial training course.  Whilst we take your preferences into consideration, you must be flexible and have the ability to relocate within New Zealand.

Full training takes around 12 to 18 months, however it may take longer.

The training process

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Become a student

Once you successfully complete the selection process, you’ll be offered the chance to join one of our training courses – usually starting in April and October each year. Each course intake is 6 to 12 students.

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Academy training

The first four weeks of training is online, self-directed learning, followed by six weeks of theoretical training in Christchurch. FSO students then begin on-job training. ATC students continue in the training academy for 22 weeks, working in our simulators.

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Field training

When you’ve completed theory and simulator training, you’ll undertake field training for four to nine months. For ATC students this will most likely be in one of our regional towers – working with real aircraft, supervised by an experienced ATC or FSO.

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Graduating as an ATC or FSO

When you’ve completed fieldb training and shown that you can deal consistently with all traffic situations, you’ll undertake a final proficiency assessment. On successful completion you’ll be issued your Air Traffic Control (ATC) or Flight Service Operator (FSO) licence and rating from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

How do I apply?

Applications are now open for our ATC training programme to start in October 2024. Applications close on 31 July 2024.