The current Air Traffic Controller (AC) rating was established in 1948 by merging several ratings with duties involved in takeoff, landing, flight planning, radar tracking, and radio communications. Called Air Controlman, the new rating combined the jobs of Radarman with those of four Specialists: Control Tower Operators, Air Station Operations Desk-Time Shack, Operations-Plotting and Chart Work, and Transport Airmen.
In broad terms, U.S. Navy ACs carry out duties similar to the tasks performed by civilian air traffic controllers, coordinating the takeoff and landing of aircraft and controlling the positioning and movement of ground aircraft and vehicles associated with airfield operations and maintenance. Potential recruits considering the Air Traffic Controller rating for their Navy career should be aware it is a five-year enlistment program, with rigorous academic requirements and work conditions that can fluctuate from highly stressful to boring based on the volume of air traffic. Before entering the 20-week course at Class “A” Technical School in Pensacola, Florida, applicants must pass a flight physical, with means they must not have a speech impediment, can speak English clearly, and successfully complete a Read-Aloud test.