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Air Force

Aerospace Control Operator

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Aerospace Control Operators operate radar, computer, communications and other sensor systems for the surveillance and control of airspace.

The Aerospace Control Operator controls and coordinates the movement of military and civilian air/ground traffic at Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aerodromes and tactical units. The primary responsibilities are to:

  • Operate command and control systems
  • Provide ground control instructions to aircraft and vehicular traffic operating on the ground and flight advisory to aircraft
  • Receive, relay and record flight plan information
  • Interpret weather reports
  • Maintain records
  • Respond to emergency situations

Work environment

Aerospace Control Operators’ working environment can be underground or onboard aircrafts. They may be employed throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. Aerospace Control Operators can also further operate Air Traffic Control services such as flight advisory, ground control and Precision Radar control to the Wings and Tactical Helicopter squadrons across Canada.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview


Aerospace control Operator


Jennifer Bailey:


I'm Corporal Jennifer Bailey from Ottawa, Ontario. I am an Aerospace Control Operator. 




Aerospace Control Operators, or AC Ops, are initially trained in Air Operations, and then can move into other aspects of the occupation, such as Airfield Operations work in an instrument flight rules terminal as an ATC Operations Technician, and Precision Approach Radar controllers. They may also work in control towers as Ground Controllers, recording flight plans, interpreting weather reports, maintaining records and helping to keep vehicles and aircraft on the airfield moving smoothly and safely. 


Aerospace Control Operators are employed in a variety of air operational duties across Canada, out of the country with allied partners and units and during deployments. The primary job of an AC Op, in Canada, is to work to protect Canadian families, homes and cities by monitoring Canadian airspace, 365 days a year, to keep our airspace safe.  

Jennifer Bailey:


Teamwork is a big part of what happens up here. All of us need to be working with each other very closely. We all need to maintain situational awareness. The amount of camaraderie that's up in the tower is pretty incredible. 




Those initially trained in air sovereignty operations Work primarily at the Canadian Air Defense Sector in North Bay, Ontario. But, they can also be employed in Operations Centres in Cold Lake, Alberta, and Bagotville, Quebec, or the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Additionally, there are many air sovereignty positions in the United States, with our NORAD partners.


Jennifer Bailey:

We track all aircrafts coming in and out of the country, making sure that everybody stays safe and we are able to respond at a moment's notice if we need to. 




If a threat is detected – Aerospace Control Operators work with Aerospace Control Officers to report, analyze, and respond to it. This can include scrambling jets to intercept the threat. 

On deployed operations, Multiple AC Op’s are involved in every aspect of the mission, from detection, to deployment of aircraft, to the safe transit and return of the aircraft.






Aerospace Control Operators lead the way for the RCAF in the surveillance of outer space. That includes monitoring space objects that could pose a threat to our satellites or the International Space Station and tasking satellites for imagery of objects in space. 

As their careers progress, there is a wide range of opportunities for specialized training and postings in areas like precision approach radar operations, space monitoring, and AWACS airborne command and control operations. Aerospace Control Operators may also have the opportunity to become Flight Advisors, supporting tactical helicopter operations domestically and on international deployments. And, AC Ops are employed with the Canadian Army in Tactical Air Control Party, or TAC-P units, advising the ground commanders on capabilities and limitations of air power, in order to assist in the integration of air assets in the battlespace.

AC Ops are also the RCAF’s Data Link experts, managing command and control of a complex network of digital weapons systems and sensors amongst aircraft, ships and ground troops.

A career as an Aerospace Control Operator offers numerous opportunities to deploy on various missions worldwide—from austere airfield activation in support of humanitarian relief to full-spectrum combat operations.

Jennifer Bailey:


Joining the Canadian Armed Forces was probably the best choice that I've ever made. I continue to wake up every single morning with a little voice in the back of my head saying, This is so cool, and always being kept on your toes, never really knowing what the day is going to bring. At the end of the day, that sense of fulfillment is pretty great. And it's happened almost every single day since I've joined. 


Related Civilian Occupations

  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Railway and Maritime Controller


The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Aerospace Control Operators attend the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations in Cornwall, Ontario. Training takes approximately three months and includes:

  • Performing the surveillance function
  • Assist with Visual Flight Rule services
  • Assist with Instrument Flight Rule services
  • Performing the Air Traffic Services function

Aerospace Control Operators may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Precision Approach Radar Controller
  • Data Systems Coordinator
  • Air Communication Control Squadron System

Entry plans

No previous work experience or career related skills are required. CAF recruiters can help you decide if your personal interests and attributes match the criteria for this occupation.

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondary 4 in Quebec with Grade 10 applied Math or Math 416 / CST 4 in Quebec.

Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Reserve Force members usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Training for the Aerospace Control Operator qualification requires about two months and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations in Cornwall, Ontario.

Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full-time for short durations as needed. Reserve Force members are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to apension plan.