About Air Traffic Control

So what is Air traffic control or ATC? Well, let us get straight to the answer. The job of Air traffic control is to communicate with aircrafts to see and help keep sufficient distance between the aircrafts so as to ensure that aircraft are far enough form each other horizontally or vertically for no risk of collision. Air traffic controllers may co-ordinate position reports provided by pilots. In the countries with high traffic areas like the US, they may use radar to see aircraft positions.

As per the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), ATC operations are carries out either in the English language or the language used by the station on the ground. In practice, however the native language for a region is usually used, however one can use the English language upon request.

There are generally four different kinds of Air traffic control:

Center controllers – These ATC’s control aircraft en route between airports.

Control towers – These comprise of the tower, ground control, clearance delivery, and other services which control aircraft within a small distance which is generally 10–15 km horizontal, and 1,000 m vertical of an airport.

Oceanic controllers - These control aircraft over international waters between continents, generally without radar service.

Terminal controllers - These ATC’s operate around busy airports and control aircraft in a wider area, generally 50–80 km.

Air traffic control is especially important for aircraft flying under Instrument flight rules or IFR, where the unforeseen weather conditions often do not allow the pilots to see other aircraft. However, near major airports with very high-traffic areas, the aircraft flying under Visual flight rules are also required to follow directions from ATC. In addition to above requirements, the ATC also offers weather advisories, navigation assistance, terrain separation, and other services to pilots.

What we learn about Air traffic control is that the Air traffic control does not control all flights. Unless the aircraft is passing through a busy terminal area or using a major airport, the majority of flights in some countries like US are not required to talk to ATC. In some areas, such as low altitude in northern Scotland and northern Canada, the Air traffic control services are not even available for IFR flights at lower altitudes.

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