Tuesday, July 10, 2007

RTF Day 3: Ghosts and ID's

Today's Lessons
  • Pilot Teach
  • Radar Identification
Pilot Teach

Today we spent some time on learning to Ghost Pilot for each other. The software is easy to use and every keyboard in the class has one of those paper "overlays" on it that tell you what each key does in the context of the ghost pilot software. It's pretty powerful actually. You can do a lot with just the numeric keypad on your keyboard, since the top three keys on it are correspond to HDG, SPD, and ALT. I'm having a brain fart and can't visualize which key is specifically what, but they're three of the keys on the top row of the keypad, starting with Num Lock.

Let's say you're ghosting and you've got Continental 123 under your command. Academy South tells you "COA123, descend and maintain 3000, turn left heading 310, reduce speed to 190". You just click the airplane with your mouse, press the HDG key, type "030", press ALT, type "310", press ALT, type "190", and the press ENTER. Everything is entered using only 3 digits. You can also use modifiers. For instance, if you're told "Turn rightto 030", you can type HDG, [right arrow], and "030".

Alright, let's say that was a vector for a final and Approach clears your for the ILS into AAC's runway 28R. You click the aircraft, press the key labeled "Approach", and a list of approaches will pop up for the airport listed as that airport's destination. Just select the appropriate one using the and arrows and press ENTER.

It's really easy once you get used to it.

Radar Identification

This course covered how we can verify an aircraft's identity using a variety of techniques. Depending on the method you use, you will need to issue the aircraft's observed position to the pilot. Here's a quick overview:
  • 1 Mile from End of Runway: If we see a primary target appear off the departure end of a runway and get a radio call saying something to the effect "Academy Departure, Lear 123PL with you out of eight hundred for five thousand." that's most likely our guy. You don't need to give him his position, since it's obvious to both of you.
  • Position Correlation: The call comes in... "Academy Approach, Cessna 172PT five miles northeast of Tulsa VOR at three thousand feet, requesting VFR traffic advisories to Springfield." You look five miles northeast of Tulsa VOR and there's a VFR single target there at 3000', miles away from any other aircraft. Given what the pilot's reported it's safe to say that the aircraft has been ID'd. He already gave you his position, so there's no need to spit it back at him.
  • Identifying Turns: However... what if there are two or three VFR targets out there? Which one is him? To figure this out, just turn him a minimum 30 degrees left or right. Ideally, you should keep in mind his destination, in this case Springfield. SGF is to the northeast, so you should give him a turn to the north or the east if possible so you don't take him too far off of his path. Also, take into account that smaller, slower aircraft will not show the turn too well, so it's better to give them a larger turn than thirty degrees.

    So you give him the instructions "Cessna 172PT, Academy Approach, turn forty degrees left for radar identification." You monitor your targets, and sure enough, one guy makes a nice standard left turn to the east. You call back with their position: "Cessna 172PT, radar contact, four miles northeast of Tulsa VOR. Resume own navigation. Squawk 1603."
  • Beacon Identification: There are three ways to ID an aircraft via their beacon, and require that you issue the aircraft's position afterwards. The methods are Ident, changing their transponder their code and watching it change, and telling them to switch their Mode C off and back on. Ident is the best one since it doesn't require you to tunnel-vision yourself into watching a target for extended periods of time.

1 comment:

Paul said...

At SDL tower we have a STARS feed from Phoenix TRACON instead of a DBRITE. It's fancy, although we get a lot of ghost targets.