FIGURE 4.1 Key radar and flight information processing elements.

to go from the departure point to the destination; identifies the fixes the flight plan will utilize; assigns a preferential route if necessary; and then posts flight progress strips to the appropriate tower/TRACON and the ARTCCs that will control the aircraft. The strips are printed on a flight data input/output (FDIO) device located at the various ARTCC sectors and at the towers and TRACONs. The time at which the strips are printed at the various sectors and facilities is a parameter that is set to ensure that they are printed in sufficient time for the controllers to plan for their traffic.

The HOST radar data processor processes radar information from a variety of radars and supports presentation of a digital display of alphanumeric information, such as aircraft identity, altitude (mode C), climbing or descending information, ground speed, and assigned altitude. The flight plan information from the flight data processor is associated with the radar data so that the controller can project the aircraft's flight path on the radar display. The radar data processor allows the controller to make automated handoffs from one sector to another or to another ARTCC or TRACON. If the radar data processor fails, a backup system called the direct access radar channel provides the controller with alphanumeric information of aircraft on the radar display but is not associated with the flight data processor. When the flight data processor fails, there is no backup system. When this occurs, it usually has more impact on the air traffic control system than if radar fails.

Prior to automation, flight progress and flight plan analysis were done by the controller. When a flight plan was filed, a controller would develop the route and



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement