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Airspace Control and Phraseology

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Planes are featuring radios. Radios, aboard a plane, allow the pilot to communicate with the various air controls with which he'll possibly enter in contact with. A VFR flight may require no radio communication at all except in the traffic pattern and in the departing and arrival maneuvers. A VFR flight under a file flight plan will require more radio communications, with the control centers the area of which the flight will cross. The IFR, and commercial flights are mandatorily flewn under the control of the various air controls concerned, hence leading to radio communications all along the flight

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. Airspace
. Aerial Phraseology
. The Phonetic Alphabet

arrow back Airspaces

How the ATC is organized in a country matches the way the airspace is. Any national airspace, worldwide, is divided into several areas, vertically, and horizontally. Such divisions are found back on the various types of aeronautical charts (VFR sectional charts, high VFR, IFR, etc). Vertically, three main areas are found in a national airspace: the lower part of it (under 1,200 ft above the ground (AGL); the part between 1,200 and some altitude, varied according to the countries (in the USA, it's 18,000 FT AGL as in Europe the limit is lower) -this is the airspace where most of the VFR flight occur, and a part of the IFRs. The airspace, at last, which is located beyond that limit, is where the IFR and airlines flights are flewn. Horizontally, on another hand, a national airspace is divided into the airspace which is of the competence of air control centers -it's the airspace between the terrains, where the flights occurs extending from the lower limit of 1,200 ft AGL to the infinite- and the airspaces associated with the airports. To get all those concepts into more details, we will detail the US airspace organization, having in mind that the airspace organization in other countries are mostly similar, albeit with differences which sometimes may prove important

First is to be found the controled airspace, which is the airspace into which certain conditions -mostly those which trigger a IFR obligation- necessitate that a flight unfolds under the ATC

The first main distinction inside the controled airspace if the famed, altitude-based, 18,000-ft limit as any flight taking place between 18,000 ft and the flight level 600 mandatorily is to flewn IFR. Thus under the control of the ATC. Such that part of the US airspace is named the 'class A airspace' as it is not figured unto the aeronautical charts

Then, 3 categories of airspace are following which are defined in the horizontal plane, as far as they are concerned, and linked to some airport (note: the airspace associated to such or such airport may have some organization complexifying the following descriptions; for more, for example, check the charts delivered with the FS2002 Professional Edition)

illustration of how a class B airspace is organizedillustration of a class B airspace

The class E airspace, at last, is any airspace which is neither of the A, B, C, or D classes. A class E airspace first is any airspace located outside the airport neighbourhood and under the 18,000-ft limit. It is extending from 700 or 1,200 ft AGL up to 18,000 ft. That class E airspace is the one of the VFR-flying GA planes and of the lower IFR flights. VFR-flying pilots are not required to contact any ATC authority as IFR flights always require the ATC control. A class E airspace also is applying to some areas where a ATC clearance is required in case of weather conditions which are not meeting the VFR minimums. A class E airspace at last may be associated to a class D airspace -with the class E being a extension of the class D- or to a airport which does not feature any class D airspace -with the class E being the airport's airspace with its existence often due to that there is a instrument approach for a terrain which does not feature any control tower. In both cases, the class E airspace then begins at the surface. Small airports, on the other hand, may just have a control tower staffed part time only! Once the tower service terminated, that airport is becoming a non controled airport, the airspace of which extends from the surface up the floor of the class E airspace above there (which, in the occurrence, is of 700 ft). Below such that altitude a IFR, instrument landing airplane will have to check for any VFR craft! Such airport-associated class E airspaces are shown on the VFR and IFR charts like red segmented draws. The class E airspaces beginning at 700, or 1,200 ft AGL are shown like large, blue or red fainting lines, respectively

A uncontroled airspace is extant too, on the other hand. The uncontroled airspace is where the ATC do not exert any control and where it is not necessary to contact them, whatever the flight conditions. In the USA, that airspace is called the class G airspace. It affects whatever is taking place under the 1,200 or 700-ft AGL-mark, which are the two floors possible of some controled airspace. One thus may fly in the class G airspace whithout contacting any ATC and with some conditions however, like applying the rules concerning the minimal distance between a flight and the ground, or inhabited areas, or some visibility conditions (visibility of 1 mile, and being able to fly outside the clouds; at night, those conditions are 3 miles, 500 ft above and 1,000 below clouds, with a 2,000-ft horizontal distance from those). The class G airspace too is the one of the lesser, and small airfields, which do not possess any control tower. The weather conditions are the same than above as the safety of the flight environment in such a airspace is conditioned by that airplanes are using the standard airport traffic pattern (and the specific maneuvers to get into, and out of it) and that pilots are using a common frequency to tell their intentions. It is of note that in the USA, you may takeoff and land on such terrains without any communication! The class G airspace is not shown on the aeronautical charts

As far as the motions on the ground, at a airport, are concerned, like the clearances, taxiing, runways intersections, etc.) they either are of the authority of specific controlers on the major and large airports, or of the control tower for the lesser ones. During a flight, a GA plane or a airliner will thus have to contact the clearance delivery, the ground control, the control tower, the departures, arrivals and the en-route control centers. Some more frequencies are automatized stations, mostly used by pilots to get the latest weather data

arrow back Aerial Phraseology

The radio communications between the pilots and the various air control instances do not use the daily life language. They are made according to a specific phraseology, which allows to regulate the communications and to spare the time of the controllers, and pilots

The radio communications in the aviation world, first, must follow an ensemble of rules:

Here are two examples of radio communications along a flight, one for an airline flight; the other for a GA navigation (both will help you to better grasp the logics and sound of such flights):

- A Commercial Flight
- A GA plane navigation flight

arrow back A Commercial Flight (frequencies fictitious; on an airliner the frequencies are tuned by the Second Officer)

arrow back A GA plane navigation flight (everything fictitious; just for the sake of the training)

arrow back The Phonetic Alphabet

The phonetic alphabet back is a spelling alphabet used to avoid any confusion when, during a communication, a unique letter is used (taxiway, gate ident, plane's tail number, for example). The current phonetic alphabet is the NATO alphabet, which became effective in 1956 and, a few years later, turned into the established universal phonetic alphabet for all military, civilian and amateur radio communications

Here is the way letters come with their code, and English-speaking pronunciation:
Letter, Code, Official Pronunciation
A, Alpha, al-fah
B, Bravo, brah-voh
C, Charlie, char-lee
D, Delta, dell-tah
E, Echo, eck-oh
F, Fox-Trot, foks-trot
G, Golf, golf
H, Hotel, hoh-tel
I, India, in-dee-ah
J, Juliet, jew-lee-ett
K, Kilo, key-loh
L, Lima, lee-mah
M, Mike, mike
N, November, no-vem-ber
O, Oscar, oss-cah
P, Papa, pah-pah
Q, Québec, keh-beck
R, Roméo, row-me-oh
S, Sierra, see-air-rah
T, Tango, tang-go
U, Uniform, you-nee-form
V, Victor, vic-tah
W, Whiskey, wiss-key
X, X-Ray, ecks-ray
Y, Yankee, yang-key
Z, Zoulou, zoo-loo

As far as numbers are concerned, here are they:
Number, Code, Official Pronunciation
1, one, wun
2, two, too,
3, three, tree
4, four, fow-er
5, five, fife
6, six, six
7, seven, sev-en
8, eight, ait
9, nine, nin-er

0, zero, zee-ro

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