Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Day 7: Happy Hour

Today's Lessons
  • FDIO
  • ATIS
  • Clearance Delivery

Right off the bat we continued with FDIO, working on a batch of exercises that showed us how to create, amend, and remove flight plans, along with printing their strips and sending departure messages to other facilities. This was actually pretty cool. I'm kind of techie, so it was neat to learn how FP's are managed in the field. It was pretty easy once you learned the codes (which were easy on their own) and the fields.

The fields were in typical flight plan order.
  • 01 is the command code (i.e. what you want to do to the flight plan). For instance, AM = Amend Flight Plan, SR = Strip Request (print strip), RS = Remove Flight Plan....
  • 02 is the Aircraft ID (N12365, AAL745)
  • 03 is the aircraft type (C172/A, B744/R)
  • ...04 beacon code, 05 speed, 06 departure fix, 07 proposed departure time, etc...
For instance, to change AAL745's type to a Boeing 767-200 and proposed departure time to 1330Z, you would enter:

AM AAL745 03 B767/2 07 P1330

... and BAM. Done. Easy.

This is an old-school FDIO machine:

After we finished the FDIO exercise, it was on to the wonderful world of ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service). I've heard a million and one ATIS broadcasts during my time as a pilot, so it was (somewhat) interesting to hear how they're made. Overall, the lesson was pretty boring and involved a lot of discussion of antiquated equipment. I did find out some fun facts - for instance, while I had always thought that the ATIS is recorded every hour, it turns out it's recorded whenever there's a weather update or a NOTAM released.

Afterwards, we went down to the tabletop lab and messed around with the equipment there. In that system, there's no actual piece of ATIS gear - it's all a software simulation of the real thing. I tried my hand at it, but for some reason got a little tongue-tied, giving me the kick in the ass I need to work on my annunciation and vocal presence.

Then came Clearance Delivery. We're going to be spending 7 days in the tabletop labs, which is the only lab where we will have an actual C/D position open. The TSS and Tower3D labs have only Ground and Local control positions, so this is really the only place where we will be doing Clearance Delivery before heading to our facilities. You're not specifically graded on Clearance Delivery, but your performance directly impacts the Ground and Local Control positions since your stripmarking and clearance operation needs to be on the money. In short, you do not want to be the one slowing down the show.

As with the two other positions, you have to manage your strips well and have Academy-specific procedures to fulfill. For instance, when you deliver an aircraft's clearance, you have to put a checkmark in block 13 of the strip. And once the aircraft has taken off, you need to send a departure message to Academy Approach letting them know and put a checkmark in block 18 saying you've done so. Aside from that, there's a bunch of duties you need to be taking care of, such as entering/modifying flight plans and managing the ATIS.

After work, I hit the Walnut Gardens Happy Hour with a classmate (after studying for tomorrow's block test of course... :) ). Every Wednesday they throw down a free beer keg-fueled "Happy Hour" for the folks staying at FAA housing places. This time they had nachos instead of the usual pizza up in the back lounge area. The "cheesy meat dip" looked rather mysterious, but ended up being pretty good. Whatever - the price was right.

Today's Note: None... Sleep deprivation sucks. I'm turning in early tonight to catch up on the sleep I've been missing over the past few days. This 5:15am alarm is killing me...

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