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  1. ITV Report

Rising demand for more Air Traffic Controllers

The operations room at National Air Traffic Services. Credit: PA

The organisation which runs Britain's air traffic control system is investing a billion pounds in new technology to keep our crowded air space safe.

It's also announced plans to recruit hundreds more air traffic controllers - but although there's no shortage at Exeter Airport, there are worries not enough young people are considering careers in aviation.

National Air Traffic Services is responsible for 14 airports across the country, including Bristol Airport, which is looking to employ six more controllers over the next two years. However, only 1% per cent of applicants are successful.

The number of aircraft in our skies is rising but there is a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers. Credit: PA

As the number of planes in the sky keeps climbing, the number of people controlling them is struggling to catch up.

Dave Hiller has been training to become an Air Traffic Controller for the past year and can't wait to qualify.

Dave Hillier is training to become an Air Traffic Controller. Credit: ITV News

You're looking after people - you're getting them from point A to point B safely.

So while they're sat there not really aware of what you're doing, down here you'll know you're making a big difference.

And also it's a bit like playing a computer game really! But real life as well - which is nice ...

– Dave Hillier, Trainee Air Traffic Controller
2.5m
British flights handled by ATCs in 2017
3m
Expected number of flights by 2030

Last year ATCs handled more than 2.5 million flights in and out of British airports. But by 2030 the figure is expected to reach 3 million.

National Air Traffic Services is investing a billion pounds in technology to help manage the increase but says it now needs more people to operate it.

86%
16-25s said they'd never considered a career as an Air Traffic Controller

You don't need any specific qualifications to start training.

  • Would you consider becoming an Air Traffic Controller?

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It's really hard to identify what makes a successful controller. It's all about these innate skills and aptitudes, cognitive abilities in terms of how the brain is wired. People may have these skills and they just don't realise!

– Katie Foster, National Air Traffic Services

NATS needs to recruit hundreds of Air Traffic Controllers over the next ten years. It's hoped its new campaign - aimed at young people - will put a career in aviation on their radar.