Who We Are

The School of Air Operations Control(SAOC) is the UK Military training centre for all RAF and RN Air Traffic Controllers, as well as Flight Operations Officers and Trade Group 9 (TG9) Flight Operations Assistants. It also provides Phase 3 training for ATM Instructors, TG9 Trade Management Training and specialist Area Radar Controller Training. Additionally, CATCS conducts ATM training for many Foreign and Commonwealth students.

SAOC has a longstanding reputation for producing the highest quality ATM personnel through the delivery of high intensity training. The decentralised nature of operational ATM training at Terminal and Area Control Units means graduates of SAOC are expected to have a firm grasp of procedures and regulations from day one of an operational tour. This is a foundation SAOC consistently provides.

The school aims to maintain the highest professional standards; this is made possible by employing specially selected, quality instructors with a shared set of values. All the personnel at SAOC are committed to giving students the best possible support throughout their professional training. To do this, SAOC constantly reviews its methods and procedures, and continues to improve the quality of computer simulation available to students and instructors.


ATC training has taken place at RAF Shawbury since 1950, when the Central Navigation School was joined by the School of Air Traffic Control from RAF Watchfield, to form the Central Navigation and Control School (CN&CS). From 1961 until 1989, controllers received live training in the tower at Shawbury with Vampire and then Jet Provost aircraft provided by Marshalls of Cambridge. In 1963 navigation training was moved to RAF Manby, and the CN&CS was renamed the Central Air Traffic Control School. The Area Radar School at RAF Sopley moved to Shawbury in 1972 to become the Area Radar Training School, bringing all ATC training under CATCS. In 1997, with the creation of the Flight Operations branch, the training of Flight Ops Officers was also added to the CATCS portfolio. TG9 Flight Ops Assistants, previosly named Assistant Air Traffic Controllers, have also been trained at Shawbury since the end of WWII. TG9 graduates continue to provide direct support to aircrew, controllers and operations managers.

Who We Train

SAOC delivers Phase 2 training for ab initio Officer and SNCO Air Traffic Controllers from both the RAF and RN. On completion the Joint Air Traffic Controllers Course (JATCC), newly qualified controllers can be posted to one of the many UK and Overseas Terminal ATC Units at an aerodrome, or remain at SAOC to complete the Area Radar Training Course (ARTC) prior to posting to an Area Radar Unit.

SAOC also delivers Phase 2 Training to Flight Operations Officers on the Flight Operations Training Course (FOTC) and to Flight Operations Assistants on the Flight Operations Assistants Course (FOAC) under the aegis of the Flight Operations Training School (FOTS). On graduation, newly qualified Flight Ops Officers and Assistants can be posted to flying squadrons, operations squadrons, Terminal or Area Control units.

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