When flying internationally from the US to Latin America, the use of GPS is common. What agency or agencies control the flight and how?

  • $\begingroup$ Over the ocean, most flights aren't under control at all. Over land, whichever country you are over uses their ATC. $\endgroup$
    – zeta-band
    Dec 27, 2018 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ What does GPS have to do with who controls the flight? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 27, 2018 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ @zeta-band Well, I hope the pilot is in control. :) $\endgroup$
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 27, 2018 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! I'm not sure what you're asking and you might find the tour is useful to understand how this site works. If you can tell us more about what "controlling the flight" means then you may get a better answer, e.g. are you asking which Air Traffic Control units direct the flight if GPS is not available? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Dec 27, 2018 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


Airline flights are almost ALWAYS under ATC control. The entire world is divided into Flight Information Regions. ATC control is passed from one agency to another as the aircraft passes each FIR boundary.

It is not a requirement for an aircraft to have GPS equipment as there are other navigation systems which can be used for navigating airways or direct routings.

Here is an interactive map that shows each FIR and it's boundaries: ICAO FIR WORLD Map

enter image description here

A flight from Miami to Bogota would fly though 5 different Flight Information Regions.

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  • $\begingroup$ I did a trip from S America to Canada once in a jet and the biggest challenge was understanding the controllers. Their equipment is old so the audio sucks, scratchy and muffled, they use different phraseology, then on top of that, the Spanish accents. The airports we stopped at didn't have ATIS so they give you all the ATIS information buried in your arrival clearance. Quite a challenge on a first time/only time trip. First time talking to a US center controller on the last leg, it was like listening to a DJ on FM radio. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Dec 27, 2018 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Note that airline flights are rarely in a straight line (even in this case where great circles don't really matter) due to weather, overflight fees, political disputes, etc. So, the proposed flight could end up going through a slightly different set of FIRs than shown. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Dec 27, 2018 at 23:28

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