Air traffic management is a complex field to explore, and ultimately it might take you a while to wrap your head around it. This extensive guide provides you with a thorough understanding of what air traffic management actually is, the systems involved, and how Straten CSL can provide expert aviation consultant services and safeguarding considerations in line with flight regulations.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about air traffic management.

Airport control tower

What exactly is air traffic management?
Air traffic management encompasses all systems that assist aircraft to depart from an aerodrome, transit airspace, and land at a destination aerodrome, consisting of air traffic services (ATS) including air traffic control (ATC), airspace management (ASM), and air traffic flow and capacity management (ATFCM).

ATM is both airborne and ground based. The airborne aspect of ATM consists of the functional capability which interacts with the ground part to attain the general objectives of ATM.

In comparison, the ground-based part of ATM comprises the functions of:

● Air Traffic Services (ATS),

● Airspace Management (ASM), and

● Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM).

How does air traffic control work?
Air traffic control is an integral part of air traffic management that focuses on moving aircraft safely and efficiently through the airspace system. From clearance to air navigation, this field of aviation covers all the components to keep airports functioning correctly. This largely involves controllers keeping aircraft set distances apart while moving them from airport to airport using set routes.

There is standard procedure to be followed strictly along each and every step of the flight process:

Before take off
Airlines will file a flight plan with air traffic control so every controller who deals with the flight on its journey is aware of its details and route.

When an aircraft is at an airport, the pilots on board will be in contact with controllers in the airport’s control tower. Air traffic controllers will look after the aircraft while it is on the ground and give it permission to take off.

In the air
Once airborne the pilot will then normally talk to another controller using a radar screen to track the aircraft’s progress through the airways system.

Each controller is responsible for aircraft in a set piece of airspace. When an aircraft is nearing the edge of their sector they will coordinate its handover to the next controller. This will continue through the aircraft’s journey until it is handed over to the controller at the destination airport.

Most airliners are monitored by controllers using radar in airways and routes known as ‘controlled airspace’. The majority of airspace that is left is known as ‘uncontrolled’ and this is used by the military and recreational pilots. In this airspace some air traffic control services are provided, especially near airfields, but in much of the airspace it is the pilots’ responsibility to see and avoid each other.

What are the different types of air traffic control?
Air traffic controllers will manage aircraft in controlled airspaces throughout the complete duration of its flight. Your exact role will depend on the location in which you work – the majority of air traffic controllers work within area control centres, with just some working from control towers at airports.

These are among the most frequent types of air traffic controller you’re likely to encounter:

Approach controllers
Approach controllers are usually based at airports, although some may work in area control centres. They’re in charge of managing all aircraft that are approaching the airport and ultimately putting all approaching aircraft into a sequence to create the most efficient order for landing.

Aerodrome controllers
Also known as tower controllers, aerodrome controllers work within the control towers at airports. They’re responsible for moving aircraft safely around the aerodrome between runways and stands, as well as giving aircraft clearance to take off and land.

Area controllers
Area controllers manage aircraft at higher altitudes (over 5,000ft) and are responsible for the aircraft during the climb, descent and en-route phase of the flight. They also issue levels, headings and speeds to keep aircraft at safe separate levels. They will usually be given a specific section of airspace to manage.

RAF and Royal Navy air operations (control) officers
These operators carry out the same take-off and landing procedures as civilian air traffic controllers, but also make sure that air bases are maintained and prepared for emergencies. They communicate with civilian air authorities to ensure civilian aircraft can pass safely through their airspace.

What air traffic services are widely used in aviation?
Air traffic management is a multifaceted field that involves many complex and interdependent elements. Here are just a few of the air traffic management services provided by Straten CSL to help ensure airports stay safe environments that function to the best of their ability:

Business continuity plans
Our business continuity management capability is designed to help you understand single points of failure in your operation. The ability to resume ‘operations normal’ following an unplanned event or disaster is critical to risk management and maintaining high safety standards in aviation. There are many problems that can befall an airport or air traffic control operations; while there are many contingencies in place it is often the time required to resume business that is crucial. Using simple business continuity planning coupled with extensive aviation experience, we can focus on issues more quickly.

At Straten, we can help you put a contingency plan in place:

● Assistance, planning and preparation for disruption and catastrophic events

● Contingency to avoid for prolonged airport closure

● Back up planning in the event of union action or workforce strike

Airspace impact studies
Aeronautical studies can be a broad field encompassing many different areas. At its heart is a study of the operational effectiveness of the air routes connecting airports to the en-route environment. Performance Based Navigation (PBN) is at the heart of airspace efficiency and predictability, understanding the interoperability of airports and airspace is key. Impact to local communities must also be taken into consideration, specifically noise pollution. Our expert team can assist in reviewing requirements and facilitate changes.

As air travel continues to grow and develop, so do the methods of navigation for operators. PBN or Performance Based Navigation can aid efficiency, capacity and predictability. At Straten CSL, we can help you to avoid some of the costs associated with constant navigation system upgrades, deliver your project within budget and make more efficient use of your airspace.

Risk assessments
Operators implementing formal aviation safety management systems will need to develop, practise and maintain a documented process of risk analysis, risk assessment, and risk control to an acceptable level of safety. The risk assessment process in aviation safety management systems starts with hazard identification and hazard reporting. Once reported, aviation safety managers will analyse affected systems and assess the risk in terms of probability of negative outcomes; and severity of most likely negative outcomes.

Airport safeguarding
Airport safeguarding is the process used to ensure the safety of aircraft landing, taking off, or flying in the vicinity of an airport. There are many factors to consider, but the main ones are property developments and wind turbines. At Straten CSL we have decades of experience in this field and provide expert analysis. Though based in the UK, we operate internationally and have experience across 3 continents.

Search and rescue
Search and rescue (SAR) is another important facet of air traffic management services. This involves the coordination of distress monitoring, communication, coordination and search and rescue functions, initial medical assistance or medical evacuation, through the use of public and private resources, including cooperating aircraft, vessels and other craft and installations.

Specialist air traffic services from Straten CSL
Straten CSL is a specialist aviation consultant, providing a wide range of support services to airports and developers. Airports, and their operational airspace, are varied and complex, requiring expert knowledge and experience to fit into their surroundings. We help businesses with aviation regulatory compliance, airspace planning, and much more. Contact us today to learn more about what we do.