Fixed Based Operators (FBO) Aviation Articles

ATC, ATCT, TRACON, ARTCC -- Who are We Talking to and Why?

ATC (Air Traffic Control) is a really big part of the safe operation of a flight. Even though their goals are similar, ATC assists pilots in different phases of reaching their destination utilizing different specialties and methods. So, who are we talking to and why?

What Does Air Traffic Control Do?

  • The controller’s responsibility is to provide a safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic
  • Provide safety alerts to aircraft
  • Properly sequence aircraft while ensuring that traffic remains a safe distance from each other

Where do ATC controllers Work?

Controllers work in three different specializations:

(1) Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT)

  • They have windows! ATCTs monitor aircraft that are on the ground or airborne within 5 miles of the airport. Due to the close proximity and range of service, these controllers use line of sight to help aid in the safe flow of traffic.
  • They even have light guns to serve as another means of communication with airborne or ground-based traffic.

  • Clearance delivery— Clears a pilot to fly a specific predetermined or amended route
  • Ground control— provides pilots with taxi instructions to or from the active runway
  • Local control—they are responsible for controlling aircraft that are prepared for departure or approach (“Cleared for takeoff Runway… or cleared for landing runway…”). They are usually referred to as just ATC.

  (2) Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON)

  • They once used large vacuum tube radar scopes to watch dots (aircraft) transition across the screen via the radar line of sight. 

  • They provide en-route air traffic services to low altitude aircraft VFR or IFR flight plans.
  • TRACON controllers have airspace of a 50-mile radius centered at the primary airport usually from the surface to approximately 10,000 ft.

(3) Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC or “Center”)

  • A Center does not have to be at or even near an airport. They are usually in less populated or more rural areas. There are 21 centers across the United States. The responsibilities of a TRACON controller and ARTCC are similar. They both provide air traffic services to aircraft, but more specifically ARTCC provides services for flights operating at high altitudes on IFR flight plans during an en-route phase of flight. According to the FAR/AIM Pilot/Controller Glossary, it states that “when equipment capabilities and controller workload permit, certain advisory/assistance services may be provided to VFR aircraft.”
  • Several hundred controllers controlling several million square miles of airspace.
  • Usually from 11,000 ft to the edge of outer space (60,000 feet)!

Trivia Question: Why aren’t ARTCC’s Located near an airport? Provide your answers in the comments below!

6 Ways the Garmin Autoland Determines the Most Suitable Airport

Photo courtesy of Elliot Jets

The Garmin G3000 Autoland System (HomeSafe) is the first of its kind to receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). HomeSafe selects an airport to autonomously land at in an emergency. The system ensures stable flight while navigating, descending, and landing at the most suitable airport. At a starting price of $85,000 USD, this system can be installed in the 2020 Daher TBM 940, Piper M600 MLS, and Cirrus Vision Jet.  Several 2019 models can be retrofitted with the system. Garmin's intentions are to expand the autoland system into other airplanes that have a G3000, such as the Honda HA-420, Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, Curtis Vision SF50, and the Cessna Citation CJ3+. The autoland system is only certified in the G3000. However, Garmin's goal is to expand autonomous flight into more modes of aviation, according to Garmin's Executive Vice President, Phil Straub. 

 

The autoland system is activated through a button in the cockpit. The system can automatically activate if it renders the pilot unable to fly. HomeSafe is designed to only be activated in an emergency, such as an incapacitated pilot. The system will then pick the most suitable airport to autonomously land at. The factors that determine which airport the airplane selects are listed below.

 

1. Airport is Within 200 NM

HomeSafe system will pick an airport in a 200 NM radius from where the the autoland system was enabled.

 

2. Fuel Reserves

HomeSafe will determine if the airplane has the range to reach a specific airport. A plane may not have the fuel reserve to reach an airport that is within the 200 NM radius, thus fuel range is used to consider a closer airport.

 

3. GPS Approach

Contrary to CAT III ILS approaches, HomeSafe is the first certified system that can autoland on a GPS approach. The airport chosen by the system must be equipped with a suitable GPS approach.

 

4. Weather

The G3000 will select an airport based on the weather and winds. The GPS will avoid adverse weather once the emergency autloand system is enacted.

 

5. Runway Length

The runway used for the approach must be at least 4,500 feet long for most airplanes. However, the exact runway length is dependent upon the aircraft being used. For example, the Cirrus VisionJet requires a runway of 5,836 feet or loner.

 

6. Terrain Considerations

When choosing an airport to land at, the GPS will consider the terrain of a given airport and its surrounding area.

 

There are approximately 9,000 airports where HomeSafe can land autonomously at. In an emergency, the system picks the most suitable airport based on distance, fuel range, instrument approaches, weather, runway length, and terrain. Only time will tell if more airplanes will be equipped with this technology and if more airports will accommodate to the requirements needed for HomeSafe landings.

5 Ways to Improve Your Scholarship Application

Whether you're pursuing a college degree, flight training, or both, your wallet will surely feel the financial burden. Scholarships are a great option for students to alleviate the cost of schooling. Although pilot hiring in the aviation industry has slowed due to COVID-19, it won't be long until the pilot shortage surfaces once again. The pilot shortage prior to the pandemic had several casual factors. One of the prominent factors was the expense of initial flight training. The aviation industry has many generous donors who provide funding for struggling students through scholarships. Here are five ways to make your scholarship essay stand out.

 

1. Did you follow the directions?

Many applicants can disqualify themselves for not thoroughly following the directions. This can be as simple as not submitting an official transcript, an essay that doesn't meet the length requirement, or the omission of other requirements.

 

2. Do you qualify for the scholarship?

This goes hand-in-hand with not following the directions. Some scholarships are directed towards applicants with certain characteristics. These characteristics could be a certain grade point average, area of study, grade in school, gender, and other demographics. 

 

3. Tell the scholarship community how YOU are different from other applicants.

The best place in the application to do this is in the essay. The essay is the place to make the scholarship committee remember you. This is the ultimate goal of the application. Many applicants have a similar essay on how they work several jobs and can't afford their flight training/schooling. Instead, focus on writing an essay that explains how you are different from everyone else. Explain what you are doing to better someone else, describe your volunteer experience, express your hobbies, etc. 

 

4. Double and even triple check for grammar and spelling errors.

A good place to be remembered (for the wrong reason) is in an essay with grammatical mistakes. Find a friend or family member to read through your essay after you triple checked it for flaws.

 

5. Do your research on the organization/individual offering the scholarship.

Explain in your application why you are honored to receive their scholarship. Include their mission and goals in your explanation. Show the scholarship committee that you have done your research. 

 

Filling out scholarship applications can be timely, however, it will always be worth your while. You will get better at applying for scholarships with trial and error. A great scholarship opportunity for anyone interested in aviation is the annual GlobalAir.com Scholarship. The application window is open until August 15th, 2020. Follow the tips above and make sure to get your application in!

GlobalAir.com Challenges You to Step Up for the FBOs (#FBOchallenge)

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to take hold of the aviation industry, now is the time to support each other. Specifically, we need to support our Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) on the field. These FBOs are the backbone of the aviation industry.

From the time an aircraft arrives at an airport, the FBO is responsible for fueling and maintaining not only the aircraft but the pilot. Often pilots are provided complimentary treats and coffee from the FBO on the field.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many FBOs have had to cut down on their hours and staff at the airports. For those who do so much for our industry, we are challenging you to give back to them.

GlobalAir.com will be providing lunch for the employees and staff at Louisville Executive Aviation on Bowman Field (KLOU) as a thank you for all of their hard work during the pandemic. The staff continues to work to service aircraft coming into the airport as well as maintaining those within the hangars.

We are challenging you to do the same!  Say a big thank you to your local FBOs as they work tirelessly to keep the airport going during this time. Say thank you by tipping after a full-service fueling, providing lunch or baked goods for your local FBO, sending cards of appreciation, or posting a message of encouragement on their social media pages!

Times are uncertain for the aviation industry and the world, but spreading kindness and saying thank you to those who work hard in our industry is important!  Join #FBOchallenge and spread the word.

If You Want To Appeal An FAA Order/Decision, Make Sure It Is Final.

FAA Decisions

It isn't uncommon for someone to be unhappy with an FAA decision. Fortunately, our laws provide a mechanism for appealing or objecting to certain final orders or decisions issued by the FAA. Specifically, 49 U.S.C. § 46110(a) provides that a person with a substantial interest in the FAA's order/decision "may apply for review of the order by filing a petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit or in the court of appeals of the United States for the circuit in which the person resides or has its principal place of business." The petition must be filed not later than sixty (60) days after the order is issued unless reasonable grounds exist for filing later than the 60th day.


However, in order for an FAA order to be subject to review by a court, the order must be "final." What does it mean to be "final"? Well, the courts have held that two requirements must be met: (1) the FAA's action must evidence the completion of the agency's decisionmaking process, rather than simply tentative or subject to further consideration; and (2) the FAA's action must determine certain rights or obligations, or result in legal consequences. Courts also consider whether the decision or order is at a stage where judicial review would interfere with or disrupt the FAA's administrative/decisionmaking process.

So, for example, if the FAA issues a letter merely restating a previously adopted interpretation of a regulation, that would not be considered a a "final" decision. However, if the FAA issued a new interpretation or clarified an existing interpretation, in either of those instances it is quite possible that the FAA's action would be considered a "final" decision subject to appeal.

Additionally, if the FAA issues a letter or notice in which it indicates that a party's practices may potentially violate the law, that letter or notice may not necessarily be the completion of the agency's decisionmaking process such that it determines a party's legal rights or obligation
s. For example, neither a letter of investigation nor a notice of proposed certificate action is considered final agency action because the FAA hasn't yet determined whether it will actually pursue enforcement action and issue a final order subject to appeal.


As a result, if you are concerned about something the FAA says or does, before you run to the courthouse to file a petition asking a Judge to tell the FAA it is wrong, make sure the FAA's action is actually a "final" action subject to judicial review. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time and money only to have the Judge tell you that the Court doesn't have the authority to even consider your arguments.

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