How to become a FISO

ATC Controller with binoculars

ATC Controller with binoculars

This is what it takes to operate the tower radio either as a Ground Radio operator or as a Flight Information Service Officer [FISO]. This is based on research I carried out last summer when I was thinking of offering my services in Denham Tower, and I have recently updated it with the CAA.

  1. GROUND RADIO OPERATOR: It is necessary to obtain an Aeronautical Radio Station Operator Certificate of Competence to CAP452 [fee about £50 (Helicopter Services at Wycombe 01494 513 166)]. A PPL with an RT licence can obtain a Ground/Radio Certificate of Competence from the CAA, free of charge, by applying on CAA Form SRG 1413 at the address given on the form. Telephone enqiries to 01293 573 355. A licensed airfield operator has the authority to VALIDATE a Ground/Radio Certificate of Competence for use at that airfield only.
  2. FISO: Details of the FISO licence requirements are in CAP427 which can be downloaded from the CAA website. The procedure consists of:
    1. Download application form SRG1414
    2. Complete first page only to apply:
      1. to take the next quarterly Law & Procedures exam [fee £55] for the issue of …
      2. to take the next Navigation & Meteorogy exam [fee £55] – pilots are exempt
      3. for a FISO licence – subject to passing the exam [no licence fee payable at this stage]
    3. Note: applicants also have to have an Aeronautical Radio Station Operator Certificate of Competence – see 1 above
    4. If you pass the Law & Procedures and other necessary exams the CAA will issue you with a FISO licence [fee £49]
    5. That FISO licence is for life but to be of any use it has to be:
      1. VALIDATED
    6. VALIDATION involves completing Page 2 of the form SRG1414 to apply for a Validation Examination by a CAA ATS Inspector at a specific aerodrome [fee £302] subject to:
      1. A certified log of 40 hours ‘hands-on’ experience under supervision of a qualified operator – maximum 4 hours in any    one day [see CAP427 Chap 2 Para 5.2] .
      2. No ‘on the job’ training prior to the issue of the FISO licence at b.(ii) will count towards the Validity Exam requirements.
      3. If you pass the Validity Exam you apply to the CAA for your FISO licence to be VALIDATED, against which the  CAA issues an ENDORSEMENT of the licence.
      4. This Validation qualifies you as a FISO FOR THAT PARTICULAR AIRFIELD ONLY
    7. MAINTENANCE involves:
      1. Exercising the privileges of the licence at least once every 90 days [see CAP 427 Ch 2 Para 6.1.1]
      2. A Competence Check every 24 months [CAP 427 Ch 2 Para 7.1.2]
  3. MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS:A UK Class 3 CAA medical certificate [fee £75-£100]. Pilot air medicals issued under JAA regulations and will not do. BUT, a PPL with a JAA Class 1 or JAA Class 2 Medical Certificate can obtain from the CAA by telephone, free of charge, the separate UK Class 3 medical certificate necessary to operate a tower radio. Tel 01293 573 700/1 medical/3 Certification or e-mail < [email protected]This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it >. When renewing a JAA Class 1 or JAA Class 2 medical it is possible to ask your AME at the same time for a UK Class 3 medical certificate at the same time which he will usually do for ‘a small additional fee’. Note: before long the medical requirement for ground radio work will be a DVLA medical certificate issued by a GP equivalent to those issued for NPPL pilots/HGV drivers. It is unlikely that any CAA medical certificate will be accepted in lieu of this GP-issued medical certificate – because they are handled by separate agencies. Not only that, a pilot taking his air medical examination will not be able to ask his AME for a DVLA/NPPL licence ‘on the side’.
  4. APPLICANTS must be over 18, have a sound knowledge of English and be fluent in the English language – which is more than many pilots have!
  5. TOTAL OUTLAY £611, or £506 for a pilot with the usual examptions.

Anybody who goes to this much trouble and expense to help pilots is worth our respect.

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5 Responses to How to become a FISO

  1. Nigel Stevens April 25, 2011 at 09:07 #


    I hold a JAR ATPL and would like to qualify for a AFISO licence. I believe that as I hold the ATPL I am exempt from all exams except Law and Procedures? Can you adivse me if anyone offers training for sitting this examination or whether I can do it by Distance/Self Learning???

    Many thanks

    Nigel Stevens

    • Matthew Stibbe April 25, 2011 at 10:27 #

      This original article came from a friend of mine. I don't really know enough about the whole FISO training business to comment or advise you. Sorry.

  2. John Wing-Stevenson May 6, 2013 at 10:10 #

    I would like to obtain a FISO licence

    I am a CAA ppl IR plus FAA 4000 hrs on singles twins and 300 hrs jet time
    Also I have a air ground licence .

  3. Paul Brown May 10, 2016 at 12:52 #

    Up to date information on the AFISO service in the UK is available on

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