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CTS Theory Exam and Training Place Eligibility Changes

Adam Farquharson



Hi everyone,

As mentioned in my recruitment post, in the past couple of months I’ve been looking at what quick changes can be made in order to improve ATC Training. My main focus is maximising the use of mentors time - feedback from mentors suggests that they spend a lot of time teaching theory that is already available through other resources (Moodle, Syllabus, vMATS etc.). Explaining the practical application of theoretical concepts is an important part of the role of a mentor and we want to encourage students to thoroughly prepare for their practical sessions to make this process as easy as possible.

For a long time, theory exams have been a prerequisite for practical training in the OBS-S1 and endorsement processes and this post announces changes to the S1, S2, S3 and C1 theory exams as well as changes to training place eligibility for tower, approach and enroute training.

CTS Theory Exam Changes

Currently all CTS theory exams contain 20 questions and have a pass mark of 16 (80%) with a time limit of 25 minutes. With there being a clear difference in theory knowledge for students starting the Heathrow endorsement in comparison to other areas, the CTS theory exams will now follow the same format which is as follows:

  • 30 Questions
  • Pass mark: 90% (27)
  • Time limit: 25 minutes

This clearly makes the exam significantly harder; however it should help the mentoring team focus mentoring sessions on the practical elements rather than those theoretical elements that can be learnt through self-study. We hope this will improve the effectiveness of practical sessions and reduce the average number of sessions a student requires to gain a rating.

These changes are effective immediately.

S2, S3 and C1 Training Place Eligibility Changes

The current requirements for S2, S3 and C1 training place eligibility can be found in ATC Training Handbook sections 5.12.1, 5.13.1 and 5.14.1. In order to ensure students have a good understanding of the required theoretical concepts prior to starting training, in addition to the current requirements students will also be required to have passed the relevant CTS Theory exam prior to starting training.

Example: in order to be eligible for an S2 Training place, you must have:

  • At least 12 hours on UK ATC positions in the three months before a place is offered;
  • At least 35 hours in total on UK DEL/GND positions;
  • Have passed the S2 Theory exam on the CTS.

In conjunction with the changes to the CTS theory exam, we hope this will help minimise the amount of time required by mentors covering topics which could be learnt by students prior to mentoring.

In order to give those currently on a waiting list time to study for and attempt the exam, these changes will come into effect 0000z 25/04/2022. The ATC Training Handbook will be updated to represent these changes.

Information For Members on a Waiting List

If you have already passed the CTS Theory exam for the rating you are currently waiting to train for, this change will not affect you. You do not need to resit the theory exam and as you have already passed you will be eligible for a training place.

If you are currently on one of the waiting lists and have not completed the Theory Exam, you will not be eligible for a training place until you have passed the relevant CTS theory exam.


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