Air traffic control (ATC) is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other support for pilots when able. In some countries, ATC may also play a security or defense role (as in the United States), or actually be run entirely by the military (as in Brazil).
Preventing collisions is referred to as separation, which is a term used to prevent aircraft from coming too close to each other by use of lateral, vertical and longitudinal separation minima; many aircraft now have collision avoidance systems installed to act as a backup to ATC observation and instructions. In addition to its primary function, the ATC can provide additional services such as providing information to pilots, weather and navigation information and NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen).
In many countries, ATC services are provided throughout the majority of airspace, and its services are available to all users (private, military, and commercial). When controllers are responsible for separating some or all aircraft, such airspace is called "controlled airspace" in contrast to "uncontrolled airspace" where aircraft may fly without the use of the air traffic control system. Depending on the type of flight and the class of airspace, ATC may issue instructions that pilots are required to follow, or merely flight information (in some countries known as advisories) to assist pilots operating in the airspace. In all cases, however, the pilot in command has final responsibility for the safety of the flight, and may deviate from ATC instructions in an emergency.
Although native language for the region is normally used, English language must be used if requested, being all pilots and controllers everywhere required to be able to speak and understand English.
Voice procedure includes various techniques used to clarify, simplify and standardize spoken communications over two-way radios, in use by the military, in civil aviation, police and fire dispatching systems, citizens' band radio (CB), etc.
The Federal Aviation Administration uses the term phraseology to describe voice procedure or communications protocols used over telecommunications circuits. An example is air traffic control radio communications. Standardized wording is used and the person receiving the message may repeat critical parts of the message back to the sender. This is especially true of safety-critical messages. Consider this example of an exchange between a controller and an aircraft:
Aircraft: Boston Tower, Warrior three five foxtrot, holding short of one eight left.
Tower: Warrior three five foxtrot, Boston Tower, runway one eight left, cleared for immediate takeoff.
Aircraft: Roger, three five foxtrot, cleared for immediate takeoff, one eight left.
For More Information: Air Traffic Control
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