Friday, October 28, 2011

Field Trip!

The other day one of my classes met up at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) to take a tour of the facility.  (An ARTCC controls high altitude traffic during the cruise portion of their flights, and hands the planes off to other facilities as they approach their destination cities.) It was a really cool place and they showed us and told us about a lot of newly implemented innovations such as GPS navigation, radio telemetry, and new radar systems that help keep the air traffic flowing smoothly.  Interestingly, they still use a lot of old-fashioned equipment right alongside the cutting edge stuff - the hardware at their controller workstations is cold war vintage.  Even though it dates back to the '70s and '80s, though, they said that the total downtime of the system in 2011 so far is 9 seconds.  Not too shabby.  I can't wait to get me a Hawaiian shirt and start talking to airplanes!

We weren't allowed to bring phones or cameras since it's a high-security federal facility (we had to go through airport-esque security and everything), but these pictures are from the internet, so we can just pretend.

There are 22 ARTCCs in the USA

Which one do you think is the biggest?

A typical controller workstation with Radar screen, flight strip bay, radio controls, and that stylin' trackball mouse

Controllers work individual sectors of airspace (in the background) while others keep an eye on the "big picture" (foreground)

Anchorage ARTCC from the outside

1 comment:

  1. Our next field trip is going to be to the ATC control tower at Merrill Field (the airport where the aviation school is) - exciting.


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