To get a better sense of what it’s like today to train, test and join the Infinite Flight ATC (IFATC) team, I interviewed two IFATC Apprentices, Oskar and Edivan. Both just joined the IFATC within the last few weeks. The IFATC has several ranks, the lowest and first rank after passing your theory (written) and practical test will be “Apprentice”.
Q: How long did it take you to become IFATC?
Oskar: I started controling about 3 months ago, but never considered becoming IFATC. After a month of controling I reached the 500 operation requirement and wanted to give the testing process a try. I failed the first written test and then continued learning the procedures for another two weeks, passed the written, and within a week I passed the practical. All in all it took me three months.
Edivan: I became interested in joining the IFATC when I started controlling on the training server about half-way through 2018, after getting my IF Pro Subscription. At this time I got my first report (ghost) so I had to wait a long time to apply since I didn’t meet the requirements. In 2019, I got my third report and started to think about how to improve my ATC skills. I read the ATC Manual and watch the tutorials on YouTube. After waiting two months, I messaged my recruiter and applied in April of 2019.
Q: What would be your advice for future IFATC currently in the testing process?
Oskar: I would advise anyone in the process of becoming IFATC to open an ATC Tracking thread on the Infinite Flight Community Forum. People will come by and give you essential advise. Take that advise and ask questions if you don´t understand something.
Edvian: I would suggest you create an ATC tracking thread on the Infinite Flight Community Forum. You can receive professional feedback from IFATC and community members on your controlling which you can apply in your next controlling session. Also, if you are taking the written test, I would suggest you read the questions carefully. I luckily passed with an 80% but I would have never been able to do that if I didn’t prepare beforehand. Make sure you read the ATC Manual and watch the tutorials before you take both tests.
Q: Is there anything you would have done differently during training to better prepare for your written or practical?
Oskar: I could have passed my written test on the first try but I had no idea what I would be tested on, so if I were to do it again, I would get someone to tell me a bit more about the test.
Edvian: I think I did the best I could do during training and the tests, its only the reading the questions and understanding what it each question means that I feel I could have improved upon.
Q: What’s the toughest part of transitioning from the training server to the expert server?
Oskar: On the training server I would just clear people to land or clear them for takeoff, this changes dramatically when controlling on the expert server after understanding what’s expected of you. The pilots expect a lot more of you.
Edivan: The toughest part of transitioning from training to expert are the expectations. Professionalism is the key to being a good controller on expert. One of the first airports I opened was actually very tough to control because the terrain was unusual and aircraft had to back taxi, which wasn’t easy for me. I had never had to deal with back taxiing before so I got some feedback from pilots and other fellow IFATC members about why I did this mistake, and that mistake. I felt like they weren’t happy with my controlling, but I learned something from it. Always do research on the airport you plan on controlling at before you open. Ask yourself what runways do they normal use, what are reasons to not allow this, and that. Of course you can’t always make everyone happy but you should be confident.
Q: Is there any thing you didn’t expect you would need to know after joining the IFATC?
Edivan: I didn’t know there were several ranks within the team [Apprentice, Specialist, Officer, and Supervisor] but in my opinion its great to have these ranks for educational purposes. You start slowly with low traffic [at class Charlie and/or Delta airports] and get a handle on the basic procedures. You get practice controlling tower and ground effectively without the stress of high amounts of traffic. On the training server I had controlled airports with heavy traffic, for example EGLL or KLAX. Of course I’d like to control bigger airports on expert but I know I’ll eventually get there when I’m ready. After practicing at smaller airports, you are sure that when you control, it will be quality controlling. That’s very important on expert, quality.
Q: What is your favorite part of being IFATC?
Oskar: My favourite part of being IFATC is the professionalism within the team. I have a lot of fun when controling and whenever I have a question, there are people there for you to ask!
Edvian: My favourite part of being an IFATC member is that you learn a lot about controlling and real world aviation. You receive feedback from other members, and being an air traffic controller could be my future job. (I’m not that old yet) I’m still in the part of my life where I can wonder about my future. I already know its going to be very involved but by being an IFATC controller I may gain some skills that could give me an advantage in the real world. That’s what Infinite Flight did to me, I became more interested in aviation and I wanted to learn everything about aircraft and ATC. Also, my favourite part is that you’re actually the “boss”, unlike on the training server. Everybody is watching to you. You say what the traffic is gonna do. If people don’t follow your instructions, then there will be consequences for them. After making their mistake, I can teach them and point them in the right direction. It’s so amazing here!
I’d like to thank both Oskar and Edvian for their answers and insight into the mind of a trainee going through the process. I’d like to note, English is not their first language; Oskar is from Germany and Edvian from the Netherlands. So if you’re struggling then just know it is possible to pass the IFATC tests, even if there is a language barrier. Don’t give up!
Do you want to be a part of this amazing Infinite Flight ATC effort? Join here!