Preparing before applying to the IFATC

May, 3, 2021 by Suhas J.

With well over 400 unique active controllers on a weekly basis, the Infinite Flight Air Traffic Control (IFATC) group is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious and diverse programs Infinite Flight has to offer. Do you want in? Here’s tips on how to ace your written and practical first try, and the story of my record breaking IFATC application process.

Firstly, you have to know your stuff. The ATC User Guide is your best friend here. Even if you have less than 100 ops and have controlled once or twice, the ATC User Guide is the perfect starting point. The most helpful sections will be sections 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. These sections will cover important topics such as Ground, Tower, and ATIS frequencies, along with general rules and terminology. Although it sounds like more than a handful, the information has been simply put, in a way so that you can gain a basic knowledge of Local frequencies in less than 30 minutes.

The Infinite Flight Community is an incredibly useful resource to prepare for the Written and Practical tests. I would recommend reading up on the tutorials in the #ATC or #Ground-School category.

As you navigate your way through these, you will likely come across YouTube videos and tutorials on how to maximize performance as a controller, made by your Infinite Flight ATC Manager himself, Tyler Shelton. After reading through these sections and watching a few videos, you’re more than ready to put this knowledge into practice.

If you don’t have previous experience with the ATC UI in Infinite Flight, things may seem awkward, and you may struggle to find what commands you are looking for. Don’t panic, we all start out this way! The only thing that will help familiarize you with the UI and ins and outs of controlling or pilots habits is the age old mantra: Practice, practice, practice! Keep practicing, and remember that you should prioritize controlling at runways with parallel runways or pattern traffic management, as opposed to opening large hubs such as Los Angeles or London. Avoid these, as all they will bring is mass pilots who typically have little professional experience.

After you feel comfortable with sequencing, pattern management, and you have practiced it at a parallel runway airport, the next great step in your ATC career would be to open an ATC Tracking Thread, if you haven’t. There are numerous guides and tips along with active threads on the IFC, utilize those to create your thread. Each time you open, always remember to prioritize pattern management as parallel runway airports are preferred.

How come pattern management and parallel operations important? These exact elements will comprise your Practical Test. To see a great example of a Practical Test, I’d recommend watching the YouTube video by Tyler Shelton entitled ‘The Perfect ATC Test’ at least once, if not multiple times. This will help you have a general idea of what to expect when the time comes. Each time you open, share it with your friends, or people in your group chats, Virtual Airlines, Virtual Organizations, try to get a good amount of people coming to practice sequencing and pattern management with upwards of 7 or 8 pilots. At this stage, your controlling is significantly more advanced than when you began honing your skills. You’re ready to apply.

Suhas is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is a long time Infinite Flight user, IFATC Officer and Tester. In the real world, he’s a student pilot on both glider and powered aircraft. He's also an IFVARB Board Member.