Council To Recruit Another ‘Grow-Your-Own’ Air Traffic Controller

airport terminal frontThe Council says they’re hoping to recruit and train another island-based air traffic controller later this year under the ‘grow-your-own’ initiative described at the recent Transport User Forum.

Chief Executive Theo Leisjer said the type of controllers needed for the Council-run airport are “like gold dust.”

He wants to train local people, “grounded in the islands” and with the right skills, to do the job.

The Council says training has already started for their first recruit, although some residents voiced criticism on ScillyToday that the position hadn’t been advertised widely in the community.

A new Senior Air Traffic Controller, Russ Schild, is now in place and adverts for a qualified Deputy and Controller have been published this week. These positions will command salaries from £36,000 to £40,000.

The Council is currently filling those roles with agency staff at a cost of almost £8,200 a month.

Stuart Yates, Senior Air Traffic Control Trainer at The Resource Group, a specialist ATC training college, says staff trained in so-called ‘approach control,’ which operates at our airport, aren’t necessarily difficult to find.

He says it’s just that most people making a career in ATC will tend to move on to higher-paying jobs in the more complex area of radar control. They can earn salaries starting at £60,000.

Stuart says the positions in Scilly are most likely to attract experienced people, possibly closer to retirement age, who want to move here for the lifestyle.

He endorsed the Council’s approach of training up our own controllers but says this isn’t a quick process. It will take around 15 weeks just to get a Student Licence, the equivalent of a provisional driving licence.

They’ll then need to be supervised by another ATC for several months and will take around two years to become fully experienced.

The airport is operating some restrictions on flying hours until the end of May because of staff shortages. However, they’ve said this will have minimal effect on scheduled flights.

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