I am not an air traffic controller, I am a software engineer. I developed an ASTERIX decoder, the application will just extract all the information and save it in a text file. I am just wondering how we can make use of the application in a real system.

Is that what we call Radar Data Processing or Surveillance Data Processing?

Edit: I know that my question was ambiguous.So, I will try to clarify it further. Is the information extracted from the ASTERIX messages useful for the Controller to conduct his work ?

  • $\begingroup$ Hi user38218! I've edited your question to better clarify what I think you're asking. If this isn't the intention of your post, please feel free to revert it. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Oct 1, 2017 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if this is easy. Usually companies providing ATC/ATM software provide the ASTERIX parser as well. Last year EUROCONTROL organised a hackathon with this subject. Not sure if the parsers created by the teams were actually used in production. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2017 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ Stelios Adamantidis So, the parser alone is not useful in a real system? $\endgroup$
    – user38218
    Oct 2, 2017 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ You can't call it "useless" but neither standalone. It's part of the system. Comparing it to CWP (controller working position) or FDPS (Flight Data Processing System) then yes it's a small chip of a bigger mosaic. $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2017 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ Stelios Adamantidis Awesome !! thank you, I just needed to know how far i am from making a complete system. $\endgroup$
    – user38218
    Oct 2, 2017 at 9:11

2 Answers 2


You would call this surveillance data processing, but typically surveillance data processing involves much more than decoding ASTERIX.

ASTERIX has many formats, not only radar but also multilateration, ADS-B, tracker output etc, hence the more generic term surveillance is used in lieu of radar.

  • $\begingroup$ DeltaLima So, the parser is just a tiny part of the whole Surveillance data processing. $\endgroup$
    – user38218
    Oct 2, 2017 at 3:47

After you've edited your question and complementary to what DL wrote, I will answer the

Is the information extracted from the ASTERIX messages useful for the Controller to conduct his work?


No in the modern ATC-ATM system it's not. I will consider the "regular" ATCO and not other supportive (but equally important) positions like for example flow controllers that need supplementary systems. So an executive ATCO will need:

  1. Flight data processing. Including complex tasks like trajectory prediction, time estimation etc
  2. Radar data processing. Part of it is the ASTERIX data parsing
  3. Safety nets. That is STCA, MTCD, MSAW, RAM, CLAM and maybe I've missed something. See below for explanations
  4. Weather data. For obvious reasons.
  5. Current AIRAC information. Airways, fixes, navaids, sectors, military areas, coastline, the whole nine yards.
  6. Voice communications. With complex functionality like recording and frequency coupling.
  7. Fusion of all the above in a nice application and UI, usually called CWP. It's the "RADAR screen" that provides the controller with the current situation, and allows them to provide input and change a flight's status. Pretty complex and demanding application.

As you can see, and as I've already commented, ASTERIX parser is a small chip of a bigger mosaic.

STCA: Short Term Conflict Alert. The most important I would dare to say. If there is an outage, you might find yourself with a ticket on hand but unable to fly for several hours.

MTCD: Medium Term Conflict Detection.

MSAW: Minimum Safe Altitude Warning.

RAM: Route Adherence Monitoring.

CLAM: Cleared Level Adherence Monitoring.

  • $\begingroup$ Stelios Adamantidis, it's an amazing and a complete answer for me, Thank you very much. $\endgroup$
    – user38218
    Oct 2, 2017 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @user38218 Happy to help $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2017 at 9:19

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