Do you guys think being IFATC is a brain sport? Does it maybe improve some skills?

I was thinking a few days ago, is IFATC a sport just like chess? Is it a brain sport? Some people may say its still a ‘game’ so its bad for you but what do yall think? Does it help you? Does it have benefits to your brain? I would love to hear opinions!


Yes, I would agree it is a brain game! It takes so much focus and strategy.


Thats what I thought too, yeah!


Controlling can definitely sharpen your skills like quick thinking and problem solving!


No. That is not even closely related to a sport. In sports you have opponents. If you’re IFATC, you have no opponents. IFATC just takes lots of skills to be proficient at it. If we start calling IFATC a sport then you might as well call walking a sport. 😂


I meaan, walking is also a sport in a way. Treadmills exist because of that very reason

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Yess I agree! Thanks for the response

I agree. People hear the word sport and automatically associate it with physical exertion activities such as football/table tennis.

However brain, or mind sport, involving mental exertion and neurological training is a real thing.

With ATC you are constantly adapting to your opponents (traffic) both on the ground and in the air.

You start with a plan to optimise the flow but then have to adapt to your ‘opponents’ - those that want to mess up your ‘plan’.

For example - changing traffic volumes, maintaining separation for arrivals and departures based not only on volume but also aircraft type. (Different types different approach and departure speeds)

Creating a strategy on the fly - all of a sudden you have aircraft flying a pattern that needs to slot in with a flux of arrivals.

And then obviously those opponents that don’t necessarily ‘turn base’ as quickly as you hope.

Mentally it is exhausting - but it’s a challenge, and a fantastic brain/mind sport that teaches you to adapt, react and deal to what is happening around you.


Wow, and that’s what I call a good response. Appreciate it. This going to be a very good way to motivate new people looking to join IFATC. 🙆🏼🙆🏼


Agree to disagree. But you get what I’m saying. Don’t get me wrong being IFATC definitely takes skill and it isn’t for everyone but in no way shape or form it’s a sport.


I get what you are saying and where you are coming from but think you are missing the context of the discussion and the topic title

What I would I be without the IFATC license.
I probably would never have finished my university degree and work as a construction manager.
Thank you community
Thank you @Laura you changed my life


Glad it helped you 🙂


I wouldn’t be so sure, I think most of IFATC would agree that around 5% of pilots want to be our opponents 😂


Pilots would be our opponents, we need to focus and use strategies sometimes to get them to land and only then we have won the game (Specially radar).

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It’s a subjective question. Anyone can argue each way. I personally don’t think that being ATC in a game should be considered a sport, but others might disagree and that’s totally fine.

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A game or a simulator? Given the realism within the constraints a mobile platform, I like to view it as a simulator with real life learning application for those looking to enter the aviation field.

It can also be a game, depends on ones perspective, what one is doing with IF and why.

Sport by definition involves physical activity, however, it’s important to note the context of the OP’s question. Given context, one could say it’s a “sport” of mental dexterity, strategy, and critical thinking involving exertion of your brain.

Regular IFATC controlling involves use of muscle memory for your basic, initial responses – i.e.

  • Pushback approved, expect runway 25R.
  • Expect ILS Approach 27L at London Heathrow, Continue as Filed.

This involves mental/brain dexterity which I’d like to believe can keep one on their toes with response times.

Then there’s the critical thinking and problem solving aspect. I like to believe this helps in development of independent critical thinking/problem solving skills which builds confidence – especially for our younger members who are still growing, developing, and likely new to this.

As a business owner/employer, I find many younger individuals lack independent critical thinking/problem solving skills and confidence in independent decision making. As a result, they seek validation from co-workers or my permission as the employer. I need people who can independently solve problems with confidence in their solution or decision.

All that said, under the right conditions, I’d say yes, this benefits the brain by keeping it active, can improve decision making ability and boost ones confidence.

In closing, let’s not get overly focused on the word “sport” alone, but look at the context of the question.


10% when controlling EGLL or KLAX which increases to 15% when it’s featured with heavy traffic 😂😂😂

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