ATCO Trainee Bursary Programme

Posted on :

22 May, 2013

Category :

Bursaries in South Africa

ATCO Trainee Bursary

ATNS is proud to provide bursaries for motivated and interested candidates to train to become Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCO’s). An ATCO is an important member of the team who ensures the safe, orderly and expeditious travel by air of millions of passengers per annum by ensuring that aircraft are separated from one another and ensuring an organised flow of air traffic.

ATNS is the sole provider of air traffic and navigation services in South Africa and provides all of the training for career opportunities in air traffic control and related services at our Aviation Training Academy (ATA) in Bonaero Park.  ATO Approval Number  0011/Scope: Air Traffic Services.

Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Grade 12 with Maths and English (HG D or SG C or level 4 upwards).
  • South African Citizen
  • Medically fit

The bursary programme facilitates an opportunity to undergo the required studies and to obtain the relevant exposure in order to qualify as an ATCO. The ATCO Trainee programme consists of 3 phases, namely the Bursary Scheme (bursary contract), the ATC Learnership (under fixed term contract) and ATC aerodrome course and validation phase (under fixed term contract). The study bursary provides each bursar with an opportunity to conduct their studies at the ATA.

Phase 1: Bursary Scheme

The following is offered as part of the ATCO Trainee bursary:

  • Transport to the guest lodge in Johannesburg at the beginning of the training programme and returning at the end of the programme (if the bursar is from outside Gauteng)
  • Cost of tuition
  • Accommodation, on a sharing basis, at a guest lodge arranged by the ATA for the duration of the core content course
  • Transport to and from the ATA as per study requirements for the duration of the core content course
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily for the duration of the core content course
  • A monthly allowance payable at the end of each month
  • 10 days of non academic activities as determined by the study programme co-ordinators.

After the initial course, core content course, when bursars are posted to an operational control center for operational exposure learning, bursars may take care of their own accommodation, meals and transport (ATNS will then increase the monthly allowance) or bursars can opt to continue to stay in the guest lodge provided by the ATA.

The bursary arrangement will cease upon successful completion of the ATS rating course. Bursars must ensure that they are on time for their classes and shifts. Punctuality will be strictly enforced. Bursars are required to pass all of their modules, courses and examinations in order for the bursary to continue. Should a bursar not successfully complete an examination or assessment, but achieve more than 50%, he/she may be given the opportunity to rewrite or be re-assessed. Should he/she still not be successful, the bursary will be terminated.

Phase 2: ATCO Learnership

Once a bursar has successfully completed the bursary phase, Phase 1 of the ATCO Trainee training programme, he/she will have graduated with an ATSO license rating qualification. The next step to becoming an ATCO is to validate this rating on operational positions. The following is offered as part of the Learnership program:


In order to validate the ATSO rating and continue with the ATCO Trainee training programme, ATNS may offer the bursar:

  • an eighteen month fixed term contract. In terms of the bursary contract, the successful bursar accepts this contract
  • during this time, the bursar receives a salary
  • no longer eligible for company accommodation, transport etc
  • medical aid and pension are not provided as benefits during this contract period and
  • ATCO Trainees should ensure that adequate measures are taken to provide for these

Should a bursar choose not to undertake the fixed term contract, ATNS may claim the investment made to date by the company.

Responsibility of Bursar/Learner:

During the fixed term contract the bursar must complete all of the necessary validations required to perform solo duties as an ATSO. The ATCO Trainee’s performance is continually monitored during this time and feedback is provided on an ongoing basis. During this phase the trainee will be required to sign an Aerodrome training contact. This agreement will cover the aerodrome exposure, rating training and validation and oblige the individual to work for ATNS for five years after aerodrome validation.

In the event that an ATC Trainee is not successful in the aerodrome selection process, or fails the aerodrome related courses, or fails the aerodrome validation training, the trainee will not qualify to continue with the ATCO Trainee bursary programme and ATNS may claim the investment made to date by the company. The trainee may apply for other positions e.g. ATSO should vacancies exist and if he/she meets the selection criteria. The fixed term contract will end after the eighteen months or upon successful validation of the Aerodrome rating and subsequent offer of permanent employment, depending on which milestone is reached first.

Phase 3: ATCO

The offer of permanent employment as an Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) will include an ATCO salary in line with the Air Traffic Services (ATS) salary matrix and full benefits (including medical aid, pension etc.). On acceptance of the offer, the ATCO Trainee becomes a fully fledged member of the ATNS air traffic services team.

To apply please click here and register your cv.

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