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brucek

Do computers help ATC with vectors?

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Guest Joshieca

OK, well I know that computers are heavily used with ATC systems in the real world. I have been listening a lot lately via a radio scanner to real world ATC chatter. I am often amazed at how these controllers know when and how to vector an aircraft, to raise/lower their altitude, what freq. they need to contact next, etc. My question is.....when the controllers are looking at their radar screen, I know that some aircraft info is displayed but does that radar screen also tell the ATC which heading to vector that aircraft, which altitude they should be flying at, and/or which freq. they need to change to next? OR do they do this all from memory?[div align=center][link:members.cox.net/fstimes/wetimage.html]Click Here For Weather Image of the Day

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Guest

The short answer is no. Computers put the information about a flight on the tag that shows up on the radar screen. The tags contain such information as type, callsign (or flight number), altitude and speed. The separation of the airplanes, which is what vectors are for, is done by the controllers from experience. They know the speeds of various airplanes, the wind speed and other variables and put them all together. If you ever get the chance, go visit a TRACON or AARTC. Before 9/11, many had readily available tours and some had sessions where you could "shadow" a controller during his shift. It is fascinating to watch.

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I agree with Bob's post (and I'm not a controller, but I am a pilot and as a part of my ground school I have visited Denver TRACON and Denver Center).Just to elaborate: While computers do not (yet anyway) control vectoring as in some "robotic" function, controllers do in fact use computer aids built into the traffic monitoring equipment that they use. The computer can, for instance, predict the speed and track of two targets and indicate to the controller that a potential conflict will exist in the near future if no action is taken. However, the action (usually vectors for traffic) is decided by the controller. Similarly, the controller can decide where he wants an aircraft to be, place his cursor on that point, and get a vector to communicate to the pilot. But the real answer to your question is "no", if I understand correctly what you are asking.Bruce.

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Guest Joshieca

Great thanks guys.....no wonder you can't get a job as an ATC after age 30....you get burned out too fast! :)

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Many of them are a great bunch and not at all burned out. My sister-in-law is has been a controller for well over 20 years and she's a mild mannered, even tempered person. Being a RW pilot I have met many controllers and most are just like you and I. There is a lot of pressure, but not all of them burn out. I have to agree with Bob, the tour, if available after 9/11, is awesome. You get to meet some special folks and see what it's like for them in their environment.

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"the tour, if available after 9/11, is awesome"While I'm sure that various facilities may have different rules, it's a lot tougher now (post 9/11). I fly out of Jeffco, a Class D airport in the Denver metro area. Before 9/11, we'd just ring the bell at the control tower, tell the controller we were pilots, and go on up. Now, not only do we need to prove we are pilots by having out licenses handy, it's also necessary to reserve ahead of time. It's a lot more complicated. But tours of towers, TRACONs and ARTCC's (Centers) are really graet to do, I do agree.Bruce.

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