Questions tagged [air-traffic-control]

Air Traffic Control (ATC) is a service of ground-based controllers that directs and coordinates aircraft to improve safety and efficiency.

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41
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5answers
82k views

How much is the minimum safe distance between two planes in-flight?

According to FAA regulations, how far should a commercial jet be away from another plane in-flight? How about military planes? They get really close when in formations... Is there a minimum distance?
27
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3answers
10k views

Why do aircraft on Flight Radar 24 jump around randomly sometimes?

I use Flight Radar 24 on my iPad to track friends/families flights when they are traveling (not paranoia, just curious). I've noticed that, quite often, their plane will jump from one location to ...
55
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6answers
16k views

Why do pilots use airways instead of just “flying direct” every time?

These days, on larger/newer aircraft at least, GPS navigation is ubiquitous. So VORs and Non-directional Beacons (NDBs) are used less. Wasn't the reason for airways because they were the connection ...
20
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3answers
36k views

What is a TRACON?

What is a TRACON or Terminal Control? When do pilots need to be helped by a TRACON? Where is it usually located and what is the difference between TRACON, En Route and Tower?
27
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4answers
16k views

Which ATC instructions should be repeated back by the pilot?

AIM 4-4-7 (b) says: Pilots of airborne aircraft should read back those parts of ATC clearances and instructions containing altitude assignments, vectors, or runway assignments as a means of ...
24
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4answers
20k views

Is a pilot allowed to sleep during a flight?

While in a flight, a pilot wants to sleep. Given that the aircraft has an autopilot facility, are they allowed to sleep for a while (e.g., half an hour)? What would happen if it's not allowed, but ...
35
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1answer
3k views

How are duplicate call signs dealt with?

Many airlines (at least here in the U.S.) have flight numbers that use different aircraft for different legs of the flight. For example, Delta 158 uses a 747-400 from Incheon International in Seoul to ...
30
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5answers
27k views

Is it illegal for Joe Public to listen to ATC in the UK?

I recall that in the UK (unlike in the rest of the world) we have a law forbidding the listening to of air traffic control, dating back a century, to the days of paranoia over spies! What is this law,...
12
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3answers
2k views

What ATC entities does a commercial airliner communicate with?

As a private pilot, I am familiar with tower, ground, approach and departure control, but I am aware that there are other entities like clearance, pushback and center. If I were flying a commercial ...
17
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3answers
9k views

What is the security policy for getting into a Control Tower in the US?

Are there any regulations the FAA has ruled to get into a Control Tower? Do people need any special kind of security clearance? Are there forbidden items or other special rules? I'd also want to know ...
19
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1answer
1k views

Do pilots who have color deficient eyesight see light gun signals differently?

Can pilots with color deficient eyesight expect to see the red, green, and white light-gun signals as such? In other words, if the controller is giving them a green light, will they see green? If they ...
16
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2answers
19k views

How do you request a “pop up” IFR clearance?

If you are flying VFR into deterioration weather conditions and would like to continue the flight under IFR, or you would like to climb to a better altitude but are restricted by a cloud layer, what ...
15
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5answers
9k views

Why are some ATC call signs different than the flight number?

When listening to air control traffic, or watching flights on flightradar24.com, some flights show up with ATC call signs (as transmitted on ADS-B) that do not match the flight number as they usually ...
9
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1answer
3k views

How is an airline call sign assigned?

Commercial aircraft are identified on the radio with an airline call sign and their flight number. The answer on this related question mentions: the telephony designator of the aircraft operating ...
13
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1answer
3k views

Who manages International Airspace Traffic?

For example, if a plane is flying from Amsterdam to Miami and is in the middle of the ocean, who manages that traffic? The ARTCC? Or the airplane just flies without communicating for some hours until ...
109
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3answers
26k views

Why did this plane fly in a zigzag pattern?

I was tracking flight NKS739 from LAX to SEA this morning and saw that it made some some odd turns. If you look at the track from FlightRadar24.com you can see that it was heading toward SEA then it ...
12
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4answers
18k views

Where can I find real-time flight tracking with the least amount of delay?

I am an aviation fan, relatively new to the industry. While I thoroughly enjoy plane spotting at my local KORD airport, at times I tune to LiveATC and Flightaware to get my fix. Unfortunately, my ...
18
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1answer
5k views

What is a two- or three-mile base exactly?

I frequently hear the tower instruction Report a two mile base for runway 5 What is the intention of that instruction? I realize that under these circumstances that we're not looking for pinpoint ...
27
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5answers
29k views

When should the term “pan-pan” be used instead of “Mayday”?

FAAO JO 7110.65, §10-1-1 states that "pan-pan" can be used to indicate a state of urgency: a. An emergency can be either a Distress or an Urgency condition as defined in the "Pilot/Controller ...
18
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3answers
5k views

What is the maximum number of planes a controller can control?

In a small and un-busy airport, the same controller can be the ground and tower at the same time. If the sector is un-busy (e.g. late at night), he may also be a sector, ground and tower all at the ...
7
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2answers
7k views

What are some examples of warning areas and restricted areas?

Can you please give me some examples of warning and restricted areas? How can an aircraft enter these areas? What are the procedures you have to follow before entering them?
4
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1answer
961 views

Does the NTSB provide CVR audio recordings alongside transcripts in accident reports?

Reading the NTSB's accident report on US1549, there is a transcript of the CVR from page 149 onwards in the PDF (marked as page 130 on hardcopy). Small clips of the ATC/crew communications exist, but ...
29
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4answers
28k views

When can I request flight following?

I'm a student pilot doing all VFR flying and making flight plans for training. I've heard that most people don't file a flight plan for VFR outside of training though, and instead request "flight ...
26
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3answers
8k views

When flying VFR without GPS, how do pilots know if they are inside controlled airspace or not?

How do VFR pilots know whether or not they are inside controlled airspace if they don't have GPS onboard?
15
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4answers
9k views

What types of air traffic controllers are there?

I've heard of many different types of controllers, but I'm not sure exactly what their responsibilities and interactions are. Here are some examples: En route controllers Approach controllers Ground ...
28
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5answers
7k views

When is an aircraft cleared to land?

In Is there a minimum separation between a landing aircraft and another crossing its runway? it was explained that once an aircraft has clearance to land, that runway is reserved for the exclusive use ...
13
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1answer
732 views

Why might a passenger jet fly at altitudes in a strong headwind when the winds are more favorable at a different altitude?

I was a passenger on an east to west flight recently. During the flight I was playing with Garmin Pilot's new "Flight profile" feature that nicely shows the wind speeds at various altitudes, and I ...
12
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3answers
27k views

How can I find telephone numbers for FAA ATC facilities?

It is often desirable to call an FAA air traffic control (ATC) facility on the telephone: To ask a question about a "mark-the-tape" incident To request a tour To notify the facility of unregulated ...
4
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1answer
425 views

Is Ground Direction Finding commonly used?

I've recently come across the concept of Ground Direction Finding. My (limited) understanding of it is that it is a system that allows you to see where a VHF transmission is coming from. I gather it ...
32
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6answers
24k views

How can pilots fly inside a cloud?

I heard that sometime an aircraft fly inside a cloud, and I'm wondering how that works - how clearly can the pilot see while inside the cloud? What if a cloud is "too large"? (Is there a maximum size ...
74
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4answers
13k views

How do civilian pilots and ATC verify that other people on the radio are who they claim to be?

I am interested in authentication - how identity is verified - in civilian aviation radio transmissions. I know that when someone is speaking on the radio he tells his call sign. But is there any ...
33
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5answers
10k views

Why are visual approaches (in the US) preferred by US pilots, but not European pilots?

I listen to ATC a lot and often hear airliners cleared for visual approaches in the USA. Interestingly, if it's European airliner pilots they deny the visual approach and request ILS even if they are ...
27
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4answers
39k views

How is wind direction reported (blowing from or blowing to)?

When the tower controller, the ATIS or a METAR says Wind 270, 15 knots does it mean the wind is blowing in the westward or in the eastward direction? Is there a single convention used to express the ...
25
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2answers
36k views

Are “Kennedy Steve’s” various jokes allowed in ATC communications?

Forgive me if there is an obvious answer to this, but I was just listening to this “Kennedy Steve” playlist, and he seems to joke a lot more than most ground controllers I’ve listened to. I have ...
24
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5answers
6k views

May an emergency aircraft land on a closed runway?

Let's say that you're on approach to a remote airport to refuel (for arguments sake, Funafuti International Airport, Tuvalu), with 1-2 hours of fuel remaining in your aircraft. Contacting ATC to ...
22
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6answers
18k views

Is there a dedicated emergency frequency?

Coast patrol has a dedicated frequency for emergency that must be watched at almost all hours, and even if I recall, it had a "dead silent period" to prioritise whatever emergency might be reported. ...
23
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2answers
17k views

What does ATC mean when they refer to “company”?

Listening to LiveATC there are references by various ATC entities (towers, approach, etc) to "company". To what does this refer?
22
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4answers
9k views

Can you bust a TFR while operating under IFR?

Is it possible for the pilot to be held responsible for violating a Temporary Flight Restriction if the controller makes a mistake while you are operating under an Instrument flight plan (ie: does not ...
21
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2answers
9k views

Can a pilot take off at his own discretion?

[I'm referring to an ATC conversation during the military coup in Turkey with an MD83 EP-TAS (ATA TBZ5402). Can a pilot take off at his own discretion? To summarize the link: a pilot is begging the ...
18
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2answers
11k views

What data is displayed on civilian ATC radar screens?

I am developping an ATC radar for a simulation. I don't think there is any standard for radars to show aircraft data on radar screens. But there should be general data to show on radar screens. For ...
15
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1answer
17k views

What are the differences between ACARS and CPDLC?

What are the differences between Aircraft Communication, Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), and Controller Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC)? Can anyone please let me know in short, what is ...
14
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1answer
3k views

How does handover between Air Traffic Controllers work?

I have a questions about air traffic control. I understand how the controllers monitor and direct aircraft on their intended routes while maintaining clearance distances to other aircraft and ...
9
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4answers
15k views

Where is the airspace not covered by primary Radar?

Most ATC in the world rely primarily on secondary radar to know where planes are. This requires that the transponder on the plane works correctly. This means that maintenance and deployment of ...
4
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1answer
807 views

How can shifting to TCP/IP make current aviation systems more delay-tolerant?

I've recently been reading a number of articles on the current aviation systems. Many of them say that the current aviation infrastructure is 'inefficient' since it is based on OSI model and, so, ...
26
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1answer
8k views

How do I submit a NOTAM?

I (a hypothetical person) am involved in an activity like laser light shows, model rocket launches, fireworks displays, or construction which I think might be important to pilots. How can I submit ...
20
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3answers
3k views

How does having multiple ATC towers affect airport operations?

I know there are airports with more than one ATC Tower, though I only know it from my own country (SCHIPHOL - EHAM). This airport has two towers called Tower-Center and Tower-West. Tower-West is built ...
19
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4answers
7k views

How are aircraft separated in a non-radar environment?

In remote areas that have no radar (oceanic airspace, etc.) how is aircraft separation maintained so that airplanes don't get too close? What do areas that normally have radar do when there is a ...
18
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2answers
2k views

How do airports handle traffic during emergencies?

What does ATC do when there is an emergency? This could be a tower or an ARTCC being evacuated or otherwise unusable. How do they decide whether to close the airport/airspace? What do they do with ...
16
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2answers
2k views

Restricted Area “popping up” around you — can it happen, and what do you do about it?

What happens if you are flying along through a Restricted Area (lets assume you're in a J-3 so you're VFR/no transponder, but you have a handheld radio to talk to ATC with) and said restricted area ...
13
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3answers
3k views

How are landing aircraft handled during an emergency runway closure?

A Hypothetical scenario A landing aircraft at a busy airport such as London Gatwick LGW has an issue during landing that requires the immediate closure of the runway. My understanding is that ...

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