ATC Radio Console/System

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KG5HHS

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Just curious as to what kind of radio system an air traffic control / tower would have. Do they use consoles similar to public safety dispatch centers? is Tower, Ground, Appr/dep all done in the same room?
 

nr2d

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Transmitters and receivers are separate. The transmitters and receivers are by several manufacturers, Motorola CM-200 and General Dynamics GDE CM-300 for both VHF and UHF. Tower and ground control are separate from approach/departure control.

Each controller position in the tower can access all all of the frequencies for the tower like ground control, local control and emergency. Like wise each position in the radar room can access all of the approach/departure control frequencies for their sector and adjoining sectors. In smaller radar facilities like here at Atlantic City each position can access all of the frequencies for that facility.

The centers are like the bigger approach/departure controls and each position can access several sector but I don't think a single position can access all of the center frequencies. A given center and approach/departure control if they are large like New York Center and New York approach could have 20 or 30 frequencies so each position can access only a few. This is of course is changeable depending on any given circumstances. the consoles are programmable and can be configured as required.

All facilities can access 121.5 and 243.0 MHz emergency frequencies.

The console is not anything like you would see in Public Safety. It is setup for each facility and programmed as required for each facility/position. Off of the top of my head I can't remember who makes console system but I think there are several versions out in the field.
 

JStemann

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Denro built some for the military back in the 80's & 90's. I think they're part of Litton now, which builds some of the current ones as well as Northrop-Grumman. I feel like Harris may have been building some at one time, but I'm not sure.

Jeff.
 

KG5HHS

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Thank you for the replies. stillsome questions.
1. what do you mean by the transmitters and receivers are separate?
2. Are the ATC console's similar to the pictures I have attached?
3. I still dont quite understand how all of these work. Is it that the ATC Tower's job to handle all the ground aircraft and the aircraft that are taking off and landing? What and where is a "Radar Room" and is this any different than an ARTCC Center?
4. What are the radio procedures for taking off and landing?
 

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majoco

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Transmitters and receivers are separated - the receivers for local control and ground are usually in the base of the tower and the transmitters are sometimes miles away. This is so the user can get reception even though he may be talking and also not have his receiver overloaded by another controller talking on an adjacent frequency as would happen if the receivers and transmitter were adjacent - certainly no 'transceivers'.
 

nr2d

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Thank you for the replies. stillsome questions.
1. what do you mean by the transmitters and receivers are separate?
2. Are the ATC console's similar to the pictures I have attached?
3. I still dont quite understand how all of these work. Is it that the ATC Tower's job to handle all the ground aircraft and the aircraft that are taking off and landing? What and where is a "Radar Room" and is this any different than an ARTCC Center?
4. What are the radio procedures for taking off and landing?
I've never seen the 1 you have the picture of but the last one I've seen here at ACY looks very similar.

As stated above the transmitters and receivers at ATCTs and the sites that are used by Approach/Departure and Centers are separate. They can be in the same building but are separate pieces of equipment. At some ATCTs the receivers and the antennas for the receivers are at the tower. The transmitters are up to a couple hundred feet away. I wouldn't say miles. At some of the bigger airports the receivers and transmitters could be at separate locations not in the tower.

When I say the radar room that's where the controllers sit in front of the radar screens. For approach/departure controls such as here at ACY or PHL the radar rooms are in the same building as the tower. For place like the NYC/Newark area and northern and southern California the FAA has regional approach/departure controls AKA TRACONs. These are separate from the airports they serve. The TRACON for JFK, EWR, LGA, White Plains and the surrounding smaller airports is just outside of NYC on Long Island. Where as the New York Center is out on long Island at Long Island/Macarthur Islip airport.

As for the procedures for takeoff and landing they vary from airport to airport big and small.
 
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I'll give this a go:

The transmitter (TX) and Receiver (RX) are independent systems. I'm not sure why, but I image it has something to do with one breaking, the other one remains functional. Depending on the airport layout or type of air traffic facility(TRACON/Center), TX & RX are located at various locations around the airspace. For example, Oakland Center is in the East Bay of the Bay Area,CA but they have communication sites out in Fallon, NV since their airspace extends that far East.

Your second picture must be newer equipment. Maybe at large, re-modeled, new, or test facilities. The first picture is called an ETVS or Enhanced Terminal Voice Switch. It's the most common and a combination telephone and radio communications system.

As others have said, a Tower is responsible for movements on the ground, runways, and usually a 4 or 5NM ring up to about 5,000' around the airport. You can use VFR sectional to determine a Tower's airspace.

TRACONs are responsible for usually an area of about 20-50NM around a primary large airport up to around 18,000'. Again, the dimensions vary though depending on the complexity of the airspace. For example NORCAL handles airspace around SMF, OAK, SFO, SJC, etc.

Centers usually handle hundred of sq. miles of airspace up to 50,000' (if I recall correctly)...maybe it's 80,000'. You can find Center boundaries fairly easy via google.

So naturally, Towers are located at airports. Some Towers incorporate TRACONs. So Controllers work both up in the Tower and down in the TRACON. Some Towers and TRACONs share a physical building/location but Controllers only work in the TRACON and others up in the Tower.

Some TRACONs & Centers work the same way where a Center incorporates a TRACON and the Controllers work both, one, or the other. Again, they may share the same building/location.

And in other cases, Towers are at the airport, TRACONs are miles away in other cities, and the Center is miles away in a third city. For example, RNO Tower is located at RNO airport. NORCAL TRACON is in the Sacramento area, and Oakland Center is in the East Bay Area.

As for the take-off/landing radio procedures. Head out to your local airport with a scanner, binos, and a comfy chair and watch and listen.
 

JStemann

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the second pic may be the new NAS Voice Switch(NVS) from Harris. Looks similar to the pics on the Harris site.

Jeff.
 
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