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Air Traffic & Aviation News - ARCHIVES
FCC Calls For Greater Use Of Electronic Devices In-Flight
What Do The In-Flight Chimes Mean?
Sandy: Flight Cancellations Push 20,000

From your friends at  2010 - Reproduction without permission is prohibited.



AAR Airport Acceptance Rate or Airport Arrival Rate.  The number of arrivals an airport is capable of accepting each hour.  Delays can result when the AAR exceeds capacity.
AC or A/C Aircraft
ADS-B Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) is a function on a properly equipped aircraft or surface vehicle that periodically broadcasts its state vector (horizontal and vertical position, horizontal and vertical velocity) and other information. ADS-B supports improved use of airspace, reduced ceiling/visibility restrictions, improved surface surveillance, and enhanced safety such as conflict management. ADS-B should not be confused with the applications it supports.  Click here for an introduction and primer on ADS-B

Under ADS-B, a vehicle periodically broadcasts its own state vector and other information without knowing what other vehicles or entities might be receiving it, and without expectation of an acknowledgement or reply. ADS-B is automatic in the sense that no pilot or controller action is required for the information to be issued.  It is dependent surveillance in the sense that the surveillance-type information so obtained depends on the suitable navigation and broadcast capability in the source vehicle.
ADZY Advisory
AMASS AMASS is a software enhancement to the Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model 3 (ASDE-3), that provides controllers with aural and visual alerts to potential collisions on the runway. It processes data from the ASDE-3 and Automated Radar Terminal Systems (ARTS) to predict aircraft movement for arriving and departing aircraft and detects aircraft and vehicles that infringe on the runway surface. It does this by correlating speed, time and distance algorithms to assess potential collision situations.
ARPT Airport
ARSR Air Route Surveillance Radar. Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) radar used primarily to detect and display an aircraft's position while en route between terminal areas. The ARSR enables controllers to provide radar air traffic control service when aircraft are within the ARSR coverage. In some instances, ARSR may enable an ARTCC to provide terminal radar services similar to but usually more limited than those provided by a radar approach control.

en route radar scope

Automated Radar Terminal System - FAA's legacy radar terminal system first established in Atlanta in 1964.  It is used in conjunction with ARSR to provide surveillance for air traffic controllers.  The ARTS is the console that controllers sit in front of when working traffic. ARTS is still in use in dozens of air traffic control facilities across the US.  ARTS is currently being replaced with current day modern technology, the STARS system.  All of the facilities we monitor here on have been upgraded to STARS.  

Above is a photo of the automation surveillance radar for air traffic control called ARTS.  It came into use at over 60 of the busiest US airports by the 1970s.  Photo credit: FAA

ARTCC Air Route Traffic Control Center. A facility established to provide air traffic control service to aircraft operating on IFR flight plans within controlled airspace and principally during the en route phase of flight. When equipment capabilities and controller workload permit, certain advisory/assistance services may be provided to VFR aircraft. There are 20 ARTCCs in the continental U.S.

ASDE Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) - That white dome spinning at the top of most control towers in the US (Atlanta tower is shown in the image to the left) is called Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-3), a primary radar that operates in the 15GHz range and is normally installed on top of the ATC tower. Through ASDE-3, a nominal one-second update of all traffic on the airport movement area is provided to the controller via display.

The photo to the left shows ASDE-3 radar atop the control tower at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. ASDE radar is very effective for tracking targets on the airport surface in inclement weather, or any overcast or fog like conditions where pilots and controllers cannot see through conditions. Limitations of ASDE include multipath and target identification but that is improving as software for ASDE evolves.

ASDE is manufactured by a few companies including Sensis Corp.

ASR  Airport Surveillance Radar.  Surveillance radar used to detect and display an aircraft's position in the terminal area.  ASR provides range and azimuth information but does not provide elevation data unless the replying aircraft is accompanied by a mode C transponder.  Coverage of the ASR can extend up to 60 miles or more depending on the year of manufacture and software release.  

The latest release by Raytheon is ASR-11, Digital Airport Surveillance Radar.

The leftmost photo to the right shows ASR-1 (version 1.0 Airport Surveillance Radar) antenna was part of an air traffic system used beginning in the early 1950s.  This is the first version of ASR. 

 The most recent version, ASR-11 is shown to the right and below in the snow.  This is the airport radar probably most familiar to you as it's the same airport surveillance radar in use at hundreds of airports throughout the world today.  Manufactured by Raytheon
Photo credits: FAA

The image below shows another version of ASR, the ASRL series used for primary surveillance in terminal and long range en route operations.  This type of radar is usually in remote areas where you cannot see it or access it, or located at military installations where it can be better protected.


ATC Air Traffic Control. A service operated by appropriate authority to promote the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.
ATCSCC Air Traffic Control System Command Center
ATCT Airport Traffic Control Tower. A terminal facility that uses air/ground communications, visual signaling, and other devices to provide ATC services to aircraft operating in the vicinity of an airport or on the movement area. Authorizes aircraft to land or takeoff at the airport controlled by the tower or to transit the Class D airspace area regardless of flight plan or weather conditions (IFR or VFR). A tower may also provide approach control services (radar or nonradar).
CDM Collaborative Decision Making. Cooperative effort between the various components of aviation transportation, both government and industry, to exchange information for better decision making.
CDR Coded Departure Routes. Predefined routes used to route air traffic around areas of severe weather.
CIGS Ceilings. The height above the ground of the base of the lowest layer of clouds when over half of the sky is obscured.   As the ceiling becomes lower, air traffic separation is increased, which decreases airspace capacity.  As demand exceeds capacity, delays can result.
CLSD Closed
DASR ASR-11 version is considered Digital Air Surveillance Radar
DME Distance Measuring Equipment
DSR Digital Surveillance Radar
EDCT Expected Departure Clearance Time. Time issued to a flight to indicate when it can expect to receive departure clearance.  EDCTs are issued as part of Traffic Management Programs, such as a Ground Delay Program (GDP).
EMERG Emergency
EQUIP Equipment
FAR Federal Aviation Regulations are the rules and regulations that govern the many facets of aviation.  You can view an electronic version of the FAR here.  Choose Title 14, then view Parts 1-199.
FCT Federal Contract Tower program.  See
FOD Foreign Object Debris.   Foreign objects on runways can result in delays as air traffic is slowed to give time for crews to remove the foreign object(s) from runways.
FSM Flight Schedule Monitor. A tool used by Air Traffic Management Specialists to monitor air traffic demand at airports.
FSS Flight Service Station. Air traffic facilities which provide pilot briefing, en route communications and VFR search and rescue services, assist lost aircraft and aircraft in emergency situations, relay ATC clearances, originate Notices to Airmen, broadcast aviation weather and NAS information, receive and process IFR flight plans, and monitor NAVAIDs. In addition, at selected locations, FSSs provide En Route Flight Advisory Service (Flight Watch), take weather observations, issue airport advisories, and advise Customs and Immigration of transborder flights.
GDP Ground Delay Program. Ground Delay Programs are implemented to control air traffic volume to airports where the projected traffic demand is expected to exceed the airport's acceptance rate for a lengthy period of time. Lengthy periods of demand exceeding acceptance rate are normally a result of the airport's acceptance rate being reduced for some reason. The most common reason for a reduction in acceptance rate is adverse weather such as low ceilings and visibility.

How it works:
Flights that are destined to the affected airport are issued Expected Departure Clearance Times (EDCT) at their point of departure. Flights that have been issued EDCTs are not permitted to depart until their Expected Departure Clearance Time. These ECDTs are calculated in such a way as to meter the rate that traffic arrives at the affected airport; ensuring that demand is equal to acceptance rate. The length of delays that result from the implementation of a Ground Delay Program depends upon two factors: how much greater than the acceptance rate the original demand was, and for what length of time the original demand was expected to exceed the acceptance rate.

GPS Global Positioning System
GS Ground Stop. Ground Stops are implemented for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are:
  • To control air traffic volume to airports when the projected traffic demand is expected to exceed the airport's acceptance rate for a short period of time.
  • To temporarily stop traffic allowing for the implementation of a longer-term solution, such as a Ground Delay Program.
  • The affected airport's acceptance rate has been reduced to zero.

How it works:
Flights that are destined to the affected airport are held at their departure point for the duration of the Ground Stop.

IFR Instrument Flight Rules. A set of rules governing the conduct of flight under instrument meteorological conditions.
ILS Instrument Landing System. A ground based precision approach system that provides course and vertical guidance to landing aircraft.

Localizer Antenna: 

Glideslope tower: 
IMC Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) is an aviation term that describes weather conditions that normally require pilots to fly primarily by reference to instruments, and therefore under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), rather than by outside visual references under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
KNOT 1 knot = 1 nautical mile/hour = 1.852 kmh−1 exactly.  This is based on the internationally agreed length of the nautical mile, as adopted by the US in 1954, the UK in 1970 and other countries.  This is the definition used in most, if not all, modern circumstances. Knot is sometimes mistakenly used to refer to the nautical mile itself, but this is incorrect.

To convert miles per hour to knots, follow this example:

miles per hour (mph) = knots * 1.15
Take your (ground) speed in knots and multiply it by 1.15 to get your (ground) speed in miles per hour.
example: 300 x 1.15 = 345 mph

Quick Knots to MPH conversion chart:

5 Knots = 5.8 MPH
10 Knots = 11.5 MPH
15 Knots = 17.3 MPH
20 Knots = 23.0 MPH
25 Knots = 28.8 MPH
30 Knots = 34.6 MPH
35 Knots = 40.3 MPH
40 Knots = 46.1 MPH
45 Knots = 51.8 MPH
50 Knots = 57.6 MPH
55 Knots = 63.4 MPH
60 Knots = 69.1 MPH
65 Knots = 74.9 MPH
70 Knots = 80.6 MPH
75 Knots = 86.4 MPH
80 Knots = 92.2 MPH
85 Knots = 97.9 MPH
90 Knots = 103.7 MPH
95 Knots = 109.4 MPH
100 Knots = 115.2 MPH
105 Knots = 121.0 MPH
110 Knots = 126.7 MPH
115 Knots = 132.5 MPH
120 Knots = 138.2 MPH
125 Knots = 144.0 MPH
130 Knots = 149.8 MPH
135 Knots = 155.5 MPH
140 Knots = 161.3 MPH
145 Knots = 167.0 MPH
150 Knots = 172.8 MPH


LAADR Low Altitude Airway Departure Route.
LAHSO Land and Hold Short Operations. Operations which include simultaneous takeoffs and landings and/or simultaneous landings when a landing aircraft is able and is instructed by the controller to hold short of the intersecting runway/taxiway or designated hold-short point. Pilots are expected to promptly inform the controller if the hold short clearance cannot be accepted.
LO CIGS Low Ceilings or low clouds can create traffic delays as aircraft separation increases.
LOC Localizer. The component of an ILS that provides course guidance to the runway.
LOW VIS Low Visibility.   The ability, as determined by atmospheric conditions and expressed in units of distance, to see and identify prominent unlighted objects by day and prominent lighted objects by night.  Low visibility can cause arrival and departure delays when aircraft separation increases for spacing and increased safety.
MINIT Minutes in Trail. A specified interval between aircraft expressed in time.
MIT Miles in Trail. A specified interval between aircraft expressed in nautical miles.
MULTI-TAXI Many aircraft trying to taxi at once, creating congestion.
N90 New York TRACON
NAS National Airspace System. The common network of U.S. airspace; air navigation facilities, equipment and services, airports or landing areas.
NAVAID Navigational Aid. Any visual or electronic device, airborne or on the surface, which provides point-to-point guidance information or position data to aircraft in flight.
NM Nautical Mile. International unit equal to 6076.115 feet (1852 meters).
NOTAM Notice to Airmen. A notice containing information (not known sufficiently in advance to publicize by other means) concerning the establishment, condition, or change in any component (facility, service, or procedure of, or hazard in the National Airspace System) the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations.
NRP National Route Plan. The NRP is a set of rules and procedures which are designed to increase the flexibility of user flight planning within published guidelines.
OTS Out of service
RLSD Released
RNAV Area Navigation (RNAV) can be defined as a method of navigation that permits aircraft operation on any desired course within the coverage of station-referenced navigation signals or within the limits of a self contained system capability, or a combination of these.  RNAV was developed to provide more lateral freedom and thus more complete use of available airspace.  This method of navigation does not require a track directly to or from any specific radio navigation aid, and has three principal applications:
  1. A route structure can be organized between any given departure and arrival point to reduce flight distance and traffic separation;
  2. Aircraft can be flown into terminal areas on varied pre-programmed arrival and departure paths to expedite traffic flow; and
  3. Instrument approaches can be developed and certified at certain airports, without local instrument landing aids at that airport.

Navigation systems which provide RNAV capability include VOR/DME, DME/DME, LORAN C, GPS, OMEGA and self contained Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) or Inertial Reference Systems (IRS).

PDR Preferred Departure Route
PRM Precision Runway Monitor (PRM) - Non-rotating, non-mechanical circular phased array antenna is electronically scanned to increase airport capacity, reduce delays, and increase the safety of parallel operations (closely spaced parallel runways).  Made by Raytheon Company
PSR Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) is identified by the larger half-circle shaped component on the bottom of the radar .  It provides ATC with calculation of speed and position of the aircraft.
RNP Required Navigation Performance.  RNP is a set of standards that measure performance accuracy of aircraft in a certain defined airspace, or along a predefined route, approach, etc. 
RRTES Reroutes
RWY Runway
RWY CONFIG Runway Configuration
RY Runway
RY  MAINTENANCE Runway Maintenance can occur at anytime due to debris on runway, planned maintenance, or other runway related events.
SPO Strategic Plan of Operation. See SPT.
SPT Strategic Planning Team. The Strategic Planning Team acts as a focal point for the development of collaborative Strategic Plans of Operation. Their goal is to provide advanced planning information for system users and air traffic facilities in order to maximize the utilization of the NAS in an organized and equitable manner.
SSR Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) is identified by the ladder shaped component on the top of the radar.  It provides ATC with unique information about the aircraft type and altitude.
STAR Standard Terminal Arrival Routes are established by the FAA so that pilots and controllers will know what to expect during transition from out of high altitude en route airspace to terminal appropach areas.  The Macey STAR is shown below.  The traffic comes down into Atlanta via the Macey Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR).  The FAA publishes Standard Terminal Arrival Procedures (STARs) for busy traffic areas so that both pilots and controllers know what to expect during the transition from out of high altitude enroute airspace to terminal approach areas. 

On the above MACEY STAR, you can see that aircraft can "join" the arrival from a number of transitions.  The objective for the controller working this frequency is to organize all of this transitioning traffic into a managed flow down the arrival so that when the traffic crosses the WOMAC intersection when landing west, turbojet traffic is at 13,000 feet and 250 knots as indicated on the arrival plate above.  When landing east, turbojet traffic crosses the LOGEN intersection at 14,000 feet and there is usually no speed restriction.  Crossing altitudes for smaller turbo prop aircraft are also listed above on the STAR.

The controller working this sector must contend with Macey arrivals, departures, satellite traffic coming down the AWSON Arrival, overflights, military traffic, weather, and overall heavy volume.  All of these challenges and the sheer volume that the sector experiences every day makes it one of the busiest air corridors in the world.

STMP Special Traffic Management Program. Reservation program implemented to regulate arrivals and/or departures at airports that are in areas hosting special events such as the Masters Golf Tournament and Indianapolis 500.
SVRWX Severe Weather
SWAP Severe Weather Avoidance Plan. An approved plan to minimize the effect of severe weather on traffic flows in impacted terminal and/or ARTCC areas. SWAP is normally implemented to provide the least disruption to the ATC system when flight through portions of airspace is difficult or impossible due to severe weather.
TACAN Tactical Air Navigation Aid. An ultra-high frequency electronic rho-theta air navigation aid which provides suitably equipped aircraft a continuous indication of bearing and distance to the TACAN station.
TFC Traffic
TRACON Terminal Radar Control Facility. A terminal ATC facility that uses radar and nonradar capabilities to provide approach control services to aircraft arriving, departing, or transiting airspace controlled by the facility.
TSD Traffic Situation Display. A tool used by Traffic Management Specialists to monitor the position of air traffic and to determine the traffic demand on airports and sectors.
TSTMS Thunderstorms
UTC Coordinated Universal Time (abbreviated as UTC, and therefore often spelled out as Universal Time Coordinated and sometimes as Universal Coordinated Time) is the standard time common to every place in the world. Formerly and still widely called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and also World Time, UTC nominally reflects the mean solar time along the Earth's prime meridian.
VAPS Visual Approaches. An approach conducted under Instrument Flight Rules that authorizes the pilot to proceed visually and clear of clouds to the airport. Usually this will be used in conjunction with Visual Separation. When using Visual Separation, a pilot sees the other aircraft involved, and upon instructions from the controller, provides his own separation by maneuvering his aircraft as necessary to avoid it. Visual Separation requires less spacing between aircraft than radar separation allowing more aircraft to land in a given period of time.
VFR Visual Flight Rules. Rules that govern the procedures for conducting flight under visual conditions. The term "VFR" is also used in the United States to indicate weather conditions that are equal to or greater than minimum VFR requirements. In addition, it is used by pilots and controllers to indicate a type of flight plan.
VOL Volume. Usually used to indicate that the volume of aircraft exceeds the airport's capacity.
VOR Very High Frequency Omni Directional Range. A ground-based electronic navigation aid transmitting very high frequency navigation signals, 360 degrees in azimuth, oriented from magnetic north. Used as the basis for navigation in the National Airspace System. The VOR periodically identifies itself by Morse Code and may have an additional voice identification feature. Voice features may be used by ATC or FSS for transmitting instructions/information to pilots.
VORTAC A navigation aid providing VOR azimuth, TACAN azimuth, and TACAN distance measuring equipment (DME) at one site.
VSBY Visibility. The ability, as determined by atmospheric conditions and expressed in units of distance, to see and identify prominent unlighted objects by day and prominent lighted objects by night.
WND Wind
WAAS WAAS is an extremely accurate navigation system developed for civil aviation. Before WAAS, the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) did not have the ability to provide horizontal and vertical navigation for precision approach operations for all users at all locations. With WAAS, this capability is becoming a reality. WAAS provides service for all classes of aircraft in all flight operations - including en route navigation, airport departures, and airport arrivals. This includes precision landing approaches in all weather conditions at all locations throughout the NAS.  For more information on WAAS, visit the FAA's website.
WX Weather
WX DEV Weather Deviation
Z Zulu Time. Another term used to designate Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the standard time common to every place in the world. Formerly and still widely called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and also World Time, UTC nominally reflects the mean solar time along the Earth's prime meridian.
ZAB Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZAU Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZBW Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZDC Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZFW Dallas-Ft Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZHU Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZID Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZJX Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZKC Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZLA Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZLC Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZMA Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZME Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZMP Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZNY New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZOA Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZOB Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZSE Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
ZTL Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
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