Air Traffic Control (ATC) A brief synopsis. Tyler Vann Copyright 1996-2001 © Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.
- Worried that this could be you on your next flight?
- Air Traffic Control’s job is to prevent incidents like this.
Flight Rules IFR
- IFR Stands for Instrument Flight Rules
- All Commercial and most military aircraft fly under IFR conditions
- IFR aircraft MUST talk to Air Traffic Control
- ATC instructions for IFR Aircraft are MANDATORY
- Can fly in fair or poor weather
Flight Rules VFR
- VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules
- Operate on a See and Avoid principle
- Most ATC instructions are advisory in nature
- Can fly in fair weather only, must remain clear of clouds
- Small privately owned aircraft are often VFR
- Not generally required to talk to ATC
- The primary job of ATC is to:
Separation of Aircraft
- Aircraft are separated (or kept apart) in a variety of ways depending on these phases of flight.
- The Air Traffic Control tower is responsible for aircraft at the airport.
- Arrival and Departure separation is provided.
- Generally, only one aircraft can be on the runway at a time.
- The tower will clear aircraft to land or takeoff if the runway is clear.
- Talks to both IFR and VFR aircraft
- Provides separation using RADAR.
- Will keep aircraft at least 1000 feet vertically separated or a minimum of 3 miles laterally.
- Sequences arrivals into an airport.
- Climbs departures to requested altitude ensuring separation from other arrivals and overflight traffic.
- IFR aircraft are required to
- talk to Approach, VFR are not
En Route Center (ARTCC)
- Provides 2000 feet of vertical separation or 5 miles of lateral separation
- Monitors aircraft flight using mosaic RADAR over a very large area
- Responsible for high altitudes
- Has an overall “picture” of traffic situation
- Issues restrictions if airports become congested
- IFR are required to talk to
- Obstacles such as large buildings or antennas
- Observed abnormal conditions. Such as, erratic flight, rapid descent, etc…
- ATC services are provided on a “First come first served basis.”
- There are many exceptions
- Generally IFR have precedence over VFR
Special Operational Priorities
- An aircraft in distress (Emergency) has priority over ALL other aircraft
- Then Air ambulance flights/medivacs
- Next Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft
- Then Presidential aircraft (Air Force 1)
- ATC assists pilots to the maximum extent possible during an emergency
- ATC gathers the following information and passes it to emergency services
- Any ordinance (Primarily military) on board
- ATC can assists emergency aircraft by:
- Clearing all airspace around and in front of aircraft
- Ensuring the Runway is available immediately
- Alerting emergency services of inbound aircraft
- Vectoring aircraft to airport or around populations
- Tower personnel can look for damage as the aircraft flies by
- Directing aircraft to an airport that can assist with their emergency
- IFR and VFR are types of ratings that determine what services pilots are provided.
- ATC keeps planes from hitting each other and the ground
- ATC services are provided on a “First Come First Served” basis
- Emergencies are assisted by air traffic controllers
Why ATC is there
- Air Traffic Control is there to make air travel:
In the end, there is only so much ATC can do…
- 6 Years of military ATC experience
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