A commercial pilot, especially in the airline industry, is in a role that is essentially the same as that of a pilot who is employed and was trained in just about any other part of the world.

Does this also hold for air traffic controllers? How similar will the training and practices and the systems that they use in their work be?

For example:

  • Are qualifications obtained in one country or region recognised in others?

  • How much additional training would be required for a controller who has trained and worked in one European Union country, in order to take a similar role in another? Or in a non-EU state?

  • Would the hardware and software used by a controller in one country be familiar to a controller from another?

  • $\begingroup$ Related: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/64205/… . Apparently ATC practices are not even completely standardized from one region to another in the US. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2019 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ A part of the answer lies in the fact nearly all countries follow ICAO recommendations. The details are in the annexes to the Chicago convention. While this doesn't cover the domestic traffic, all international airports and traffic control agencies follow the same principles. This ultimately rubs off to domestic airfields and traffic. For example ATC and aeronautical documentation are nearly standardized worldwide. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Dec 16, 2020 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


This question is analogous to asking, for example, how universal are law enforcement systems, training and practices. At the highest levels you may find similarities driven by things like EU regulations, to pick one, but as you dive deeper into the implementation of those three things, you will find differences, from minor to wildly diverging. Police officers and air traffic controllers may receive very similar basic training, but once they move off from there and into the field, things can and will change dramatically.

The same explanation holds for commercial pilots. A pilot flying cargo in Alaska on Cessna 185's, for example, will be trained in and execute procedures and practices completely different than a commercial pilot flying Britten-Norman Islanders on puddle jumping routes in the Caribbean.

Bottom line is it is challenging to answer this question without context, i.e. two countries you wish to compare.


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