by Ant Pruitt
While sitting in the airport waiting for my flight, I enjoy firing up my mobile device to catch up on what’s happening with the airport’s air traffic control team. This group of highly skilled individuals keeps everyone on the flight teams updated on flight information. I do this by logging into the Live ATC mobile app.
What Is ATC?
Air traffic control (ATC) is a vital command center found at all airports that’s responsible for handling the flow of inbound and outbound aircraft. The team uses data and calculations to prevent runway accidents and advise when aircrafts can safely land and take off.
How to Listen In
The Live ATC app lets you to listen into the world of air traffic control at not only your flight’s airport, but airports around the world. If you find yourself at the gate prior to a torrential downpour, you may want to know if your pilot and ATC has gotten word from the FAA about a delayed departure.
Sure, you can watch for changes on the big board at your gate but it’s more interesting to hear the conversations between pilots, ATC and the flight administration. Most of the time the chatter is rather robotic and monotone, but there are times when the “personalities” of the parties come to life to discuss the official business of air traffic control.
Download the Live ATC app from the Apple iTunes Store or the Android version from Google Play. You can even find a Windows phone version. Once installed, I recommend launching the app just after you begin boarding your flight. While boarding, you may capture chatter about when your flight will leave, including details like how many planes are ahead of you and which path the aircraft will taxi on. As a fan of sitting near airport windows, I’ve noticed that certain aircraft depart from specific runways and at specific times. They don’t all take the same route to reach that runway, however. ATC funnels the aircraft down certain avenues to keep traffic moving.
“Delta 2205 taxi to runway 25North via foxtrot,” says ATC. “Delta 2205 taxi to runway 25North via foxtrot,” confirms the pilot of flight 2205.
As a flight is cleared for takeoff, the path and altitude are paramount. It’s important that outgoing flights stay on a specified path for the safety of other aircraft departing or arriving.
“Delta 2205 please climb and maintain four thousand,” says ATC after the pilot engages the jet engines. “Delta 2205 climbing and maintaining four thousand,” the pilot confirms.
Lastly, ATC instructs the pilot “Delta 2205 contact Atlanta on 124 point 62, goodbye.” The pilot again repeats the instruction and confirms switching to a new ATC channel for further instruction during the flight. In this instance, the ATC of the Atlanta airport will guide the aircraft until further notice.
These conversations and instructions happen continuously between all the flights at the airport. With the Live ATC app, you can hear the conversation while on Wi-Fi. The Live ATC app is $3.99 and allows you to catch up with what’s happening at your airport’s air traffic control department. Stay up to date with what your pilot is discussing with ATC. Enjoy the fun chatter between all of the parties.
When Ant is not snapping photos on his smartphone, he’s actively engaging the photography community. Ant writes for Tech Republic.