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Blem

New member
Hey all,
I'm just joining the forums and thought it would be a good idea to open a short form Q&A for pilots and controllers. I have 5 years of Center experience so by no means am I an expert but I can find an answer for enroute.
 

Sky Pig

New member
Hey all,
I'm just joining the forums and thought it would be a good idea to open a short form Q&A for pilots and controllers. I have 5 years of Center experience so by no means am I an expert but I can find an answer for enroute.
Hi Blem. Have you seen the movie Pushing Tin? I'd love to hear your opinion on the ATC specific aspects of that movie, particularly the opening scene when Nick Falzone (John Cusack) visualizes the targets in his head. I know a lot of the movie is silly drama stuff, but it seemed like they had some real controllers consulting for the ATC scenes. Were controllers that competitive back then? Thoughts? Opinions?
 

Blem

New member
It has been a while since I've seen the movie. (its basically a requirement for the job lol). To answer your questions, personally I don't visualize aircraft unless I am using non radar rules. I am a center controller and with the implementation of ADS-B the times I use non-radar is mainly regulated to satellite airport departures and oceanic aircraft. Other than that we see all the aircraft we are working 99.9% of the time on the radar display. As for competition between controllers I'm not sure its a thing anymore. I caught the tail end of the controllers hired post strike and there was culture and structure similar to the military. So you were nitpicked, strips were thrown, and a couple of other things happened that would make you think you were in a highschool boys locker room. As of now there is still some hazing that goes on but its more focused on doing the job safely and efficiently. The control room is a fun place to work but we are on our best behavior when there is a tour coming through :p
 

MsHighAltitude

Active member
Staff member
Hey all,
I'm just joining the forums and thought it would be a good idea to open a short form Q&A for pilots and controllers. I have 5 years of Center experience so by no means am I an expert but I can find an answer for enroute.
Question: When a pilot requests an approach or practice approach, how does the controller know all the fixes and altitudes? Around Port of Long Beach (Los Angeles, CA), people request different approaches into various airports (TOA, LGB, SNA, FUL and occasionally SLI & AVX) and the tracon controllers seem to know the plates like the back of their hands.
 

Zeede

Active member
Staff member
Question: When a pilot requests an approach or practice approach, how does the controller know all the fixes and altitudes? Around Port of Long Beach (Los Angeles, CA), people request different approaches into various airports (TOA, LGB, SNA, FUL and occasionally SLI & AVX) and the tracon controllers seem to know the plates like the back of their hands.
Well, they're doing it all day, so eventually one would expect them to pick it up pretty quickly.
 

Blem

New member
You definitely learn a lot from working traffic. But before we even talk to airplanes we spend months learning our airspace. This includes approaches (IAFs, MAPs, and MA altitudes.) NAVAIDs, MEAs, MVAs, MIAs, Landmarks, etc. I can't speak for Tracon but for Center controllers we are able to toggle our MIA polygons and associated altitudes on the radar display. Also many approaches are designed to start over the same IAF. In my area I am familiar with around 14 airports and their associated approaches. If all else fails we have a system similar to an EFB that has all the things we need in electronic form. Also we have paper charts as backup.
 

MsHighAltitude

Active member
Staff member
You definitely learn a lot from working traffic. But before we even talk to airplanes we spend months learning our airspace. This includes approaches (IAFs, MAPs, and MA altitudes.) NAVAIDs, MEAs, MVAs, MIAs, Landmarks, etc. I can't speak for Tracon but for Center controllers we are able to toggle our MIA polygons and associated altitudes on the radar display. Also many approaches are designed to start over the same IAF. In my area I am familiar with around 14 airports and their associated approaches. If all else fails we have a system similar to an EFB that has all the things we need in electronic form. Also we have paper charts as backup.
Thank you for the response! That's pretty amazing. I guess now when I request a practice approach it comes with a bit more appreciation. 🙂
 

RAF805

Member
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to visit Fort Worth Center and listen in while watching the radar with a controller. To say I was impressed would be an understatement! The controllers were all super friendly and professional. After watching for a couple of minutes, I realized that there was no way I could keep track of it all and that the world is a safer place with me in a cockpit and not working as a controller!
 

Grimm

New member
Did you want to be an En-route controller at first? Or did you learn it was the best at the Academy? :p
 

sparta5326

New member
Agreed! I had the pleasure of controlling at Potomac TRACON/Pax River. A lot of learning (read: mistakes) happen in the melting pot that is major airports, fast jets, slow jets, prop, military/civilian, experimental planes, restricted areas, etc.

I'd be happy to field any relevant questions if it can help the greater good.

Side note: @Kelsey, I found your YT channel searching for PPL info. Controller to Pilot transition, coming up. Thanks for your great content and as always... keep the blue side up ;)
 

Blem

New member
Did you want to be an En-route controller at first? Or did you learn it was the best at the Academy? :p
I wanted to be tower at first but when I got hired I was selected for enroute so its just a matter of where you fall in the hiring process.
 
It has been a while since I've seen the movie. (its basically a requirement for the job lol). To answer your questions, personally I don't visualize aircraft unless I am using non radar rules. I am a center controller and with the implementation of ADS-B the times I use non-radar is mainly regulated to satellite airport departures and oceanic aircraft. Other than that we see all the aircraft we are working 99.9% of the time on the radar display. As for competition between controllers I'm not sure its a thing anymore. I caught the tail end of the controllers hired post strike and there was culture and structure similar to the military. So you were nitpicked, strips were thrown, and a couple of other things happened that would make you think you were in a highschool boys locker room. As of now there is still some hazing that goes on but its more focused on doing the job safely and efficiently. The control room is a fun place to work but we are on our best behavior when there is a tour coming through :p
Have you seen Air Disasters, where a foreign pilot, with limited English skills, tells ATC at busy JFK, that he can't keep circling, cuz he's running low on fuel? He requests to land. The informed ATC is soon done for the day + leaves. The new ATC shift arrives, + was perhaps not informed of the jet low on fuel, or didn't know how low? (I don't rem.) The pilots run out + crashed.
What are the chances of this lack of, up to the minute pilot to ATC communication occuring these days? Isn't there redundancy + ways of preventing this from occuring again? Why would commercial pilots wait so long to urgently update ATC again, on how low on fuel they are? This accident was 100% preventable with better communication. So sad.
 
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Grimm

New member
Have you seen the Air Disasters tv show, where a foreign pilot tells ATC, at a busy airport, he can't keep circling, cuz he's running low on fuel? He requests to land. The informed ATC is done for the day + leaves. The new ATC shift arrives, + was NOT informed of the jet low on fuel. The pilots don't know this + run out + it's a horrific crash. What are the chances of this lack of communication from one shift to the next occuring these days? Isn't there redundancy + ways of preventing this from ever occuring again? So sad.
We have a pretty detailed relief briefing list we have to go through every time we switch off. I’m more surprised the pilot didn’t declare and emergency though. One does not typically get relieved during an emergency. Plus more than 1 person is working the sector at a time so the other guy should also remember he had to coordinate low fuel info about that guy. Emergencies aren’t super common either so it gets the whole area kind of alert-ish. The supervisor of the area would have been told if they followed procedures and would also have known. The pilot should also get more and more uncomfortable and start calling atc more and more often. The adjacent sectors also likely knew about it since they’d have to be ready for the plane to divert or something. Forgetting about an emergency just doesn’t seem possible.
 

Zeede

Active member
Staff member
Have you seen the Air Disasters tv show, where a foreign pilot tells ATC, at a busy airport, he can't keep circling, cuz he's running low on fuel? He requests to land. The informed ATC is done for the day + leaves. The new ATC shift arrives, + was NOT informed of the jet low on fuel. The pilots don't know this + run out + it's a horrific crash. What are the chances of this lack of communication from one shift to the next occuring these days? Isn't there redundancy + ways of preventing this from ever occuring again? So sad.
This was the Avianca flight, right? The controller that took over was informed, but part of the problem was that none of the flight crew were very fluent in English, and none of them ever declared an emergency.

Using non-standard phraseology is always bad.
 
This was the Avianca flight, right? The controller that took over was informed, but part of the problem was that none of the flight crew were very fluent in English, and none of them ever declared an emergency.

Using non-standard phraseology is always bad.
Thank you. I 100% agree. You're quite knowledgeable! A friend who's a commercial flight instructor is getting certified as an ICAO English Language profiiciency evaluator.
 
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