Sunday, June 03, 2007

Day 13: Headsets!

Today's Lessons:
  • Visual Operations
  • IFR Arrivals and Departures
  • Tabletop Orientation
We finally finished academics today. Everyone is relieved and eager to get going in the labs.

As a bonus, we also received our headsets. I'm definitely starting to feel that "controller vibe" now. I've seen all of the previous classes walking around with their headsets slung around their necks. Now it's our turn.

The last two academic lessons were pretty straightforward. IFR Arrivals and Departures covered both radar and non-radar techniques for arrivals and departures. There's a lot of "busywork" involved with the IFR's, including getting a release prior to takeoff and delivering rolling reports for each departure. Also, in a radar environment with successive departures, you need to fire them off with at least 15 degrees of divergence to provide separation. For the nonradar portion, it's good to brush up on the 1 minute / 2 minute / 3 mile rules that govern how you space your departures out.

Visual Operations focused on using visual techniques in an IFR environment. Visual approaches, visual separation, contact approaches, special VFR, VFR-on-top, etc. Each has their own specific requirements as far as weather goes, and all still need to take into account aircraft performance, route of flight and wake turbulence.

Visual Separation is kind of an inside joke with controllers it seems, and a very powerful tool at the same time. By telling an IFR aircraft about another aircraft and telling him to "MAINTAIN VISUAL SEPARATION" you're taking the separation duties largely out of your hands and putting it in the hands of the pilot. He can fly circles around the other aircraft, and it's not really your problem. When your Conflict Alert's screaming bloody murder and your supervisor walks over with a "WTF is going on?" look on his face, you can just throw up your hands and say "I had visual!"

Today's Note: Someone made a comment that the headsets they gave us are a little cheap-feeling. They're not as far as I'm concerned - they're very lightweight and unobtrusive. I looked the model up on the Plantronics site. This is the one I (and most of the other people in the class) selected: As you can see, it's over $130.00. They also offered us an over-the-ear one but I thought this might be more comfortable over long periods. Also, I think the in-ear design makes for better clarity.

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