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PHL Approach
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« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2005, 11:28:25 PM »

In the US they combine up two freqs often, they can combine like 5 freqs up, probably even more.
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Jonathan_tcu
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« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2005, 06:37:26 AM »

Ok, here's my question, when controllers throw the switch to combine frequencies, that means they handle 2 or more radar screens, flight plan data boards and probably throw switches to combine both receiving and transmitting feeds, right?  IF they return to peak usage and only work one sector, I assume their neighbouring sector controllers sit beside them and handle their own radar consoles.
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IndyTower
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« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2005, 10:42:17 AM »

When it comes to radar screens, they basically can zoom in and out, in a manner of speaking.  Each sector doesn't have a set in stone area that the screen can "see."  For example, an controller can look at traffic in neighboring sectors to get an idea of what's coming and plan.  At IND TRACON, I remember when they split things a bit and opened up a final approach sector. The controller just went to a screen and zoomed in to the final area.

So, the only need one controller when they combine sectors.  They just make it so their screen displays what they need it to.  At least that's the way I understand it. I'm no expert, so anyone feel free to correct me or elaborate.

Matt
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Jason
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« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2005, 11:09:42 AM »

Quote from: IndyTower
When it comes to radar screens, they basically can zoom in and out, in a manner of speaking.  Each sector doesn't have a set in stone area that the screen can "see."  For example, an controller can look at traffic in neighboring sectors to get an idea of what's coming and plan.  At IND TRACON, I remember when they split things a bit and opened up a final approach sector. The controller just went to a screen and zoomed in to the final area.

So, the only need one controller when they combine sectors.  They just make it so their screen displays what they need it to.  At least that's the way I understand it. I'm no expert, so anyone feel free to correct me or elaborate.

Matt


Partly true.  You can definitely zoom in, but TRACON's have to think about which sectors are being combined.  Essentially each sector has a different video map, depending on the position.  You cannot combine a sector that doesn't have certain features on the video map, since it would be difficult to control a/c like that.  Usually you hear "main" sectors combined.  I'll give an example.  The NOBBI sector in NY TRACON (126.4) which serves HPN, BDR, DXR, etc, etc is a small section of the HARRP (120.8 ) sector in N90 (NY TRACON).  Since 120.8 is the main freq. after 11PM until 7AM (combined sectors), NOBBI sector a/c are actually inside HARRP airspace when NOBBI is closed (at the times stated).

You can zoom in/out, but if there is no video map where some of the blips are, you have no idea where they are (relatively speaking).  The sectors that are combined are usually the primary sectors that just have sectors either branching off of it, or spilt at certain times of the day/traffic permitting.

Hope this helps!
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IndyTower
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« Reply #34 on: July 27, 2005, 11:45:49 AM »

True, I was mostly thinking about IND, which has a small TRACON.  When it comes to TRACONs with several areas and Centers, the can probably only combine sectors within one area due to the reasons you stated.
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Jonathan_tcu
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2005, 07:28:15 AM »

Ok.  So the radar screens are zoom capable.  That I did not know.  When frequencies split up into their own sectors, I take it another controller takes a seat beside the same guy and alter their radio settings as required.  Does this mean that one radar console is actually vacant during an off peak period?
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Jason
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« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2005, 08:56:39 AM »

Yup.  I visited NY TRACON (N90) on Monday and EWR only had 2 controllers instead of the "full" 6 controllers.  It was very quiet, so 4 screens were vacant.
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Jonathan_tcu
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« Reply #37 on: July 28, 2005, 08:59:46 AM »

Ok.  This is making a lot of sense.  How about the flight progress strips, do they move around as well, or are they set up at a console, soon to become active?
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Jason
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« Reply #38 on: July 28, 2005, 09:06:55 AM »

Quote from: Jonathan_tcu
Ok.  This is making a lot of sense.  How about the flight progress strips, do they move around as well, or are they set up at a console, soon to become active?


I haven't quite gotten to whole process down, but this is what I saw at N90.  The traffic managment center in the center of the TRACON gets strips for arriving aircraft prior to a handoff to them.  They put them on holders and another person for each area alligns them in orders to expedite the transfer.  Once the aircraft are handed off, that person or supervisor usually hands the strip to the controller and he puts it in the stack.  Sometimes they bring a few strips over and put them in the stack.  Believe it or not, most of the N90 controllers do not use the stack (I guess when it's busy they do) in light to moderate traffic.  They take the strips (on the holder) and put them on the table (part of the console, right of the keyboard controls; free area to use) and just rearrange them on the table.  N90 wrote down ALL altitudes and some headings they assigned.  They save ALL the strips I guess to keep count of aircraft they've handled.

Hope it helps  Cool  cheesy
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Jonathan_tcu
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« Reply #39 on: July 28, 2005, 09:14:25 AM »

Ah yes, it does.  I found that exact explanation you posted on a Learning Channel program a few years ago, where what you explained is bang on the same.  There is a picture from Canairradio dot ca  of a Toronto ACC console and I just assumed that 24 hours in advance worth of FPS are set up at the console.   I just find it amazing how up here in the north, the peak period is 7 am to 8 pm and off peak stretches from 8pm Fri to 7 am Monday.  And other sectors, like Simcoe/Peterborough in souther Ontario throw a peak period freq split as soon as 2pm Sat/Sun hits.  I've always wondered who on earth is manning the freq that split away.  I've often heard contollers mention "Sorry, I was on another frequency, say again please? "  So if a center is busy, there are more controllers.  Can one controller man 2 split frequencies even after saying wishing 'good day' after a hand off?
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sierra yankee
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« Reply #40 on: August 10, 2005, 07:54:27 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan_tcu
There is a picture from Canairradio dot ca  of a Toronto ACC console and I just assumed that 24 hours in advance worth of FPS are set up at the console.


No, they're always coming in.  Here's a pic of what an inactive board looks like (I don't have a pic of an active one):



See the tube sort of thing just below the NY OCN divider?  That's how they come to you, and they just come flying out sort of whenever -- usually 20-30 mins before the actual aircraft gets to your sector, to give you enough time to get them in holders, put them on the board and scan for conflicts.  You will get multiple copies of the same strip, as well, if the aircraft is passing over multiple fixes within your specialty.  Keep in mind that in the low sectors, a lot of the traffic is GA too, or VFR flight following, so a lot of the flights are somewhat impromptu, requiring the controllers to grab a blank strip and write one up on the fly.  It's the job of the data controller to take the strips from the tube, put them in holders, and slot them into the correct spots depending on the fixes.  He also coordinates the fix ETAs with other sectors, and discards the strips once the aircraft has been handed off or lands.  The radar room is actually a relatively noisy place and about 97% of that noise is the CLACK-CLACK-CLACK of plastic strip holders hitting other plastic strip holders as they are jostled around.  It's a bit archaic, but the majority of conflicts are still caught this way, and in many cases the radar guys can fix them well before they even show up on the screen.

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I've always wondered who on earth is manning the freq that split away.  I've often heard contollers mention "Sorry, I was on another frequency, say again please? "  So if a center is busy, there are more controllers.  Can one controller man 2 split frequencies even after saying wishing 'good day' after a hand off?


All the rostering is done depending on traffic levels.  For instance, the East Low specialty has a max of 3 controlling positions:  two radar sectors (Simcoe and East Radar;  there is no Peterborough sector but Simcoe sector has a secondary transmitter, with its own frequency, that is based in Peterborough) and a databoard position which sits between the two and works with both sectors.  During a typical day shift you have 5 guys scheduled, so at any given time three will be working the positions and two will be on break.  It's an equal split, so you do an hour in Simcoe, 45-minute break, an hour in East Radar, break, an hour working the databoard, break, rinse, repeat.  Sometimes on Saturdays or Sundays the two radar positions are combined.  And then during mids, one guy will work both radar sectors and his own board (despite this, it is still VERY slow, and you can easily work 2-3 hrs. without a break -- in fact you have to because they only roster 2 guys to work the entire specialty during a midnight shift, so often one guy will work while the other just hangs out for a couple hours at a time, then they switch).  The RsiT displays that we have can be adjusted so that any console can work any sector, or combination of sectors, in the entire facility.  In fact each controller has his own login name, and once he signs in with that name the display alters to match his specific preferences regarding centering, zoom, colors, what's displayed vs. what isn't, and so on.  NavCan doesn't pay as much as the FAA, but our equipment is like an IMAX movie versus their black-and-white TV (at least as regards the facilities that are still using ARTS).

When a controller says "I was on another frequency" he usually means an intercom call with another sector or facility.  This is all the stuff you don't hear on liveatc.net.  It greatly depends on the sector but in some areas at YYZ, I would say there is probably at least one "landline" call for every 2-3 calls on the actual frequency.  All our interfacility handoffs -- to Montreal, Boston, Cleveland, Winnipeg -- are done via the landline, and there are lots of pointouts, apreqs, and other stuff, both within YYZ sectors and outside the facility, to coordinate.  When this is going on you're still technically on frequency, but it's kind of like trying to listen to someone talk to you on the phone in one ear while somebody's standing there yelling into your other ear;  you know that a pilot has called but you often don't know who it was or what he wanted.

Regarding splitting two frequencies and switching pilots from one to the other (which I think is your last question)?  Yes, it happens, usually due to range issues.  You might have a pilot who's losing you on the PIA transmitter so you switch him to a different frequency on a transmitter that's closer to where he is.  Technically you're supposed to say something like "change to my frequency on xxx.xx" that lets him know it's still going to be you, but I guess technically you could phrase it the same way as any other handoff ("contact Toronto Centre on xxx.xx") and then just surprise him when he still hears your voice on the other end.

Hope this helps to answer your questions.
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Jonathan_tcu
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« Reply #41 on: August 10, 2005, 09:59:48 PM »

Thanks for that information.  I remember that 'clack clack clack' sound on that TLC program.  I think here in Ontario, when I visited the FSS, the controller here hotlined CZYZ via interphone and obtained a clearance for a flight heading up to CYMO (Moosonnee).  Toronto called back after only 2 minutes. If I am not mistaken, the same  guy who cleared the flight from here was the same controller.  That was a Sunday, I think, which is when the controllers manned 4 sectors and 3 pm which is the typical rush hour.  

So now that I know how the frequencies are split and how the controllers rotate, I can finally answer my own question that when our North Bay/Sudbury freqs 127.25 and 135.5 split from the Timmins/Moose freq 128.3 and 133.72, I know that one of the voices I hear up here WILL eventually man the neighbouring sector.  And during the daytime, as soon as 7 am hits, a new guy gets his radar console all set up, flicks the switch to handle 2 freqs instead of 4  and will allow new flight plan progress strips to land at his console.  So these guys are literally busy manning interphones and radios non stop, even during off peak periods too.
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