Re: Air traffic control questions

From: (A. Kevin Rodriguez)
Organization: TASC
Date:         22 Jun 94 16:57:50 
References:   1 2
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In article <airliners.1994.1314@ohare.Chicago.COM>, (Gregory R. TRAVIS) says:
>In <airliners.1994.1313@ohare.Chicago.COM> (Katie Schwarz) writes:
>>I like to listen to the air traffic control talk that United sometimes
>>puts on one of the audio entertainment channels, and I have some naive
>>questions about it. My impression is that after the pilot calls the
>>ARTCC (Oakland Center, Denver Center, Indianapolis Center, etc) the
>>person on the ground finds the aircraft on radar and follows it. Is
>>this right?
>Yes, when the aircrat can be radar identified.  It's not the controller's
>only job, though.  Note also that air traffic control can FUNCTION perfectly
>well without radar; it does so by reverting to "manual" callouts of
>position location by aircraft pilot's and a lot of distance/time calculations
>on the ground.  Radar just increases the ATC facilities "bandwidth" or absolute
># of planes in the sky.
Under IFR (I don't know about VFR) the plane doesn't just show up in the
new controller's sector.  The aircraft is always handed-off from one controller
to the next (i.e., the receiving controller has to accept the aircraft).  So,
when the pilot calls the new controller, the controller is already expecting to
hear from him.  This all happens on the controller's comm so you don't hear the
exchange.  I don't know the level of automation in the hand-off process (voice 
or data or whatever).  The controller already knows the plane is there before
any radio contact.  In fact the computer prints out the flight strip several 
minutes early telling the controller when and where (e.g., 10:00 GMT, J31) 
to expect the plane.  Note: Central ATC management uses this information to 
forecast congestion in a particular sector or airport and delay planes on 
the ground (a common experience in the NE corridor).
A. Kevin Rodriguez  (
The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC)
Reading, Massachusetts