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I am confusing what ARTCC, RCO and FSS. and also what do they do? Do they control air traffic by communicating with pilots? Also, do they offer WX information in air born?

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ARTCC or Air Route Traffic Control Center:

  • Does control traffic, generally in larger areas and above FL180 (Class A airspace)
  • Will broadcast some weather info and provide advisories

ARTCCs broadcast a Severe Weather Forecast Alert (AWW), Convective SIGMET, SIGMET, or CWA alert once on all frequencies, except emergency, when any part of the area described is within 150 miles of the airspace under their jurisdiction


RCO or Remote Communication Outlets:

The remaining RCOs are of two types: 1,223 RCOs that allow pilots to contact flight service and receive transmissions over a common frequency; and 398 RCOs over which pilots can transmit—usually on 122.1 MHz—and monitor flight service’s response on the frequency of a co-located VOR.


FSS or Flight Service Stations:

Flight Service Stations (FSS) are air traffic facilities that communicate directly with pilots to conduct preflight briefings, flight plan processing, inflight advisory services, search and rescue initiation, and assistance to aircraft in emergencies. FSS also relay Air Traffic Control clearances, process Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) and provide updates on aviation meteorological and aeronautical information.

Provides inflight weather, preflight planning and clearances and takes NOTAMS. Does not control traffic in the air but is involved in dispatching instructions (clearances) prior to takeoff.

Offering weather is a bit tricky. Controllers and those on the other end of the radio all have access to different levels of weather information and weather radar. Many will provide some level of information if asked. What they will provide is perhaps worthy of its own question here.

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