Aviation Safety AllianceAviation Safety Alliance

Contact ASA

Aviation 101Events & SeminarsGovernment OversightResourcesBriefing RoomStatisticsContact UsWho We Are
Principles of FlightThe AircraftEnginesAircraft Design & ProductionMaintenanceCrewAir Traffic ControlNew TechnologyHeritageGlossary

Air Traffic Control

Overview | ATC Facilities | Radar

ATC Facilities

Airport towers - Control aircraft while they taxi to and from runways and during takeoffs and landings. More than 400 airports have towers which are organized into the following:

  • Local Control - Controls operations to, from and on an airport's runway, usually referred to as "tower."
  • Clearance Delivery - Is accomplished by a separate controller at most busy terminals where heavy ground traffic and frequent IFR departures require division of the workload.
  • Ground Control - Governs the movements of all aircraft and vehicles moving around on the surface of an airfield.
  • Departure Control - Provides radar separation and sequencing of departing aircraft.
  • Approach Control - Provides radar separation and sequencing of inbound aircraft.
Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) - Control aircraft immediately prior to, and after, landings and takeoffs, or during the climb and descent phases of flight; there are 184 TRACONS, some handle more than one airport.

Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) - Known as "en route" centers, each directs and coordinates IFR and participating VFR traffic within controlled airspace, principally during the en route phase of flight; there are 22 ATC centers in the U.S. airspace system: Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Fort Worth, Guam, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City (KS), Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Flight Service Stations (FSS) - Serve as information centers for pilots; have no direct air traffic authority over either VFR or IFR traffic; provide weather information and emergency assistance; flight plans are filed with the FSS; they also issue and disseminate NOTAMS.

Automated Flight Service Stations - An electronic service, providing pilots with weather and flight planning information.

Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) - Also known as "central flow control," it is based in Herndon, Va., and manages traffic flow across the country in an effort to avoid excessive traffic buildup in any one section of airspace.


Home | Aviation 101 | Events & Seminars | Government Oversight | Resources | Briefing Room | Statistics | Investigations | Who We Are