I'm having a class about Database management system, and the professor gave us a project regarding Air traffic control system. The exact assignment is to "Design and create a system which can manage informations of Air Traffic Control System, summarize entities and how system works".

I'm not asking you to do this for me, what I would like to know is

  • what should i know about air traffic control systems?
  • how does it work?
  • what are the entities involved in it?
  • what is an air traffic control system?
  • $\begingroup$ The Air Traffic Control System is extremely broad. It might be better to restrict yourself to a simplified form of the Flight Data Processing System. On wikipedia you'll find a basic introduction $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Jun 20 '14 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ Were you not given more specific direction from your instructor? Reverse-engineering ATC operations is well outside the scope of a database class. You should have been given a schema or specific lists of information to be manipulated for your project. If not you may wish to talk to your instructor to nail down exactly what you're supposed to do, because I'm sure they didn't intend for you to have to learn the intricate inner workings of ATC. $\endgroup$ – TypeIA Jun 20 '14 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of Where can I find Air Traffic Control information material suitable for beginners and students? $\endgroup$ – fooot Jun 20 '14 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ This does seem like an overly-broad assignment - ATC is a lot more than just a database (there's a LOT of logic and constraints when you look at the real system, and that's only considering what the ATC Computers deal with, not the external stuff Pilots and Briefers bring into the process). It sounds like a very interesting project though - more fun than "Build a supermarket inventory system" (the classic DB project when I was in school). $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jun 20 '14 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ @washaq the simplest entity-relationship model is Airplane & Airport (a "route" in that system is an airplane, a departure airport, a destination airport, and a list of airports over which it will pass; More complex modeling would include "navigational aids" (things that aren't airports over which an airplane may pass), information about the aircraft's speed, estimated departure time, arrival time, and times crossing waypoints (airports/navaids/etc) - There's WAY more to real-world ATC but I'd consider that "adequate" for a school project unless you're studying to be an ATC specialist :-) $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jun 21 '14 at 19:36

Air traffic control system is the computer system that air traffic controllers use to keep track of the aircraft they are controlling.

The system processes data from the primary and especially a secondary radar and displays them in suitable fashion for easy understanding by the controllers. The radar processing itself is not interesting for database class. But there is a bunch of information about each aircraft that needs to be remembered and associated with it's radar image:

  • The assigned transponder 4 octal digit code (usually called "squawk"). This is a code the secondary radar receives from the aircraft used to associate the data to the correct radar return.
  • Identification, also used as callsign. It is registration number or flight number (sometimes internal company flight number that is different from what they show in time tables)
  • Aircraft type
    • The aircraft type is needed so the controller knows the performance of the aircraft, so it needs associated performance data like maximum speed, approach speed, maximum altitude etc.
  • Flight plan. This needs to contain:
    • Start and destination airports
    • Preferred cruise altitude and speed
    • List of waypoints
  • You may consider current clearance limit (altitude and waypoint); I am not sure whether the current systems include it or not.
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    $\begingroup$ The Host also keeps track of airspace restrictions so that flights don't get scheduled through restricted airspace. as well as all existing waypoints and data about them as well as sector boundaries.... Its a very complicated system. $\endgroup$ – David Wilkins Jun 20 '14 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ As @DavidWilkins points out there's a lot more to what the Host (and ERAM) systems do than what's above, though I would certainly think Jan's answer is more than enough work for a college project. If you really want to dive deeper The FAA Air Traffic Control Plans and Publications are a good resource. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jun 20 '14 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your help, as much as i understand that in my project i should involve; -Squawk code -Callsign (not internal company number) -Aircraft type +Speed +Altitude +Type (cargo, commercial, military) +Available seats -Flight Plane + Destinations + Preferred Altitude and speed during flight + List of Waypoints (i have no idea about this) shall i involve airports, people(passenger, flight crew, pilots), etc ? i think for radar image it should be stored in graph atabase, am i wrong? $\endgroup$ – washaq Jun 21 '14 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ ATC doesn't generally care about "people" (other than who the pilot is) - you can use the standard flight plan form for reference, and just strip out a lot of it for the sake of simplicity. The list of waypoints("route of flight") can likewise be simplified (see my comment on the question) - lat/long coordinates or just "flying over these airports" is enough for school projects I think. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jun 21 '14 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ Re: RADAR, this actually isn't stored in the ATC computer (there's some information in that computer that is fed to the radar display but if we're simplifying let's ignore all of that). The radar data is essentially a real-time display, and while the FAA records it that's not something that gets "queried" for flight plans and such - if they need historical radar data they get the tapes (probably all electronic now, but it's effectively "tape", it wouldn't be part of what the flight plan & routing computers deal with. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jun 21 '14 at 19:45

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