Hi I am currently in the academy for Enroute. I am just wondering if anyone knows if there is something on the web that can assist with separating aircraft. I am looking for a program that I can practice this on at home if possible to identify if aircraft will be in conflict.
If anyone could be of assistance would be greatly appreciated
Before answering your question, think about the following questions back at you:
If the traffic you have under your control isn't separated by the time they are in your control, you already have a problem, and that problem existed prior to you (via another Enroute controller, or at the TRACON) level. The source of the separation problem would exist there, so as the enroute controller, why would you accept the handoff of an aircraft if it isn't in a situation that isn't under control?
Additionally, since part of the problem you are looking for is situation dependent (for example, the issue coming from the previous controller, versus an aircraft departing IFR off from an uncontrolled, Class G field which you are making room for them in your flow), you're talking about creating the loss of separation versus inheriting the loss of separation from another controller. For the latter, I refer back again to the above regarding why would you accept the handoff to begin with.
For the former, you have 3 options: vertical, horizontal, or speed.
- Vertical: climb one of the aircrafts in conflict and/or descend the other until the immediate situation is resolved, then figure out how you're going to resolve it further before handing them off to another controller.
- Horizontal: vector one off their current heading to accommodate for the other, then again, figure out how you're going to resolve the situation further down the road before handing them off.
- Speed. Both horizontal an vertical are going to require speed to create the in-trail separation you are needing. One will need to be slowed to create the separation needed. Depending on how congested your flow is (I'm assuming they'd be on an airway or a SID that is joining an airway), you'll need to reduce the speed of the other aircrafts in your control to create the spacing needed for the separation. When that is done and you've fit them in, you're set.
But if anything, if you're getting traffic that isn't separated to begin with, you need to question the controller giving you that aircraft and refuse the handoff. you shouldn't be receiving a situation like that to begin with. Yes, it may happen from time to time, and ATC has the training to resolve it, but you shouldn't be getting set up to have an operational error (read: set up for failure) from the start.