Level Difficulty (TRACON/Tower)

mpp0013

Newcomer
Oct 23, 2015
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I'm curious about the mid range levels from 5-9 as I'm in the military so my knowledge of the civilian ATC extends to what I read on here. How difficult is the levels of the facilities? My question meaning how difficult is a level 5? Do you go in drink coffee and hope you talk to more than two planes at once. I understand level 12 is balls to the wall. If I decide to get out I don't care about pay but do care about working traffic at a consistent level. I care more so about radar than I do about tower, Thanks.
 

corn4ahead

Senior Member
Oct 3, 2012
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You just need to know that not all same level facilities are created equally. A level 5 tower only will typically be MUCH busier than the towered portion of a level 6/7 up/down. Level 5 up/downs are usually very slow, both up and down.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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I can only compare to TLH for lower level but they were a level 7 when I worked next to them (I think they're a 6 now) and they were SLOW. Something like maybe 200 ops a day including overflights?
 

FoggyWindow

Trusted Contributor
Feb 18, 2011
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Los Santos Intl Airport
A level 9 tower only can be balls out busy. Busier than most 12’s depending. It’s not so much numbers that make a place busy, but more so the complexity. A lvl 9 tower like Daytona is far more complex than ATL tower because ATL doesn’t get student pilots, doesn’t get practice approaches, and doesn’t get pattern work. Daytona has all that plus mixed speed acft working the pattern. It’s a sequencing nightmare.
 

lowapproach

Epic Member
Oct 29, 2010
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On the other hand, DAB isn't doing 2500+ IFR operations a day 365 days a year, either.

Everybody gets busy sometimes. The lower the facility level, the less frequently that will happen. The centers where I've worked are far busier than the tower and RAPCON where I checked out in the Air Force, but my harder sessions tend to be with 5 needy low-time GA pilots on separate frequencies than 25 professional jet pilots all on one frequency.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
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Working approach for a primary training military airport with multiple squadrons, where they all do multiple IFR approaches, while their tower is kicking vfr's out because they're too busy is some of the most frustrating traffic I've worked. Oh, and there is no automation connecting the facilities so all inbounds have to be manually coordinated and handed off manually.
My dream is to have the same amount of airplanes, but instead of wanting another approach, they are all full stop. That sounds easy.
 

FloridaLimaLima

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Oct 21, 2017
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Working approach for a primary training military airport with multiple squadrons, where they all do multiple IFR approaches, while their tower is kicking vfr's out because they're too busy is some of the most frustrating traffic I've worked. Oh, and there is no automation connecting the facilities so all inbounds have to be manually coordinated and handed off manually.
My dream is to have the same amount of airplanes, but instead of wanting another approach, they are all full stop. That sounds easy.
Sounds like your talking about Jacksonville?
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
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Sounds like your talking about Jacksonville?
Corpus Christi. I imagine it's fairly similar though.
JAX has more air carriers and overflights, whereas CRP has more military activity. CRP gets an extremely low overflight count because there's no where for aircraft to overfly without landing in Corpus airspace which goes all the way to the Mexico border.
 

AC1277

Junior Member
Mar 2, 2013
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Paradise District
You also have to consider that a lot of facilities are seasonal. Highly seasonal facilities will work 2-3 levels above their payband half the year, and 2-3 levels below it the other half. The more consistent and structured a facility is, the more you will get into a groove regardless of the level of traffic. Every facility has their "non standard days", though.

Several years ago I was working in a level 6 VFR tower and a friend of mine who worked a level 12 TRACON came to visit. She spent fifteen minutes in the tower and said, "Oh hell no, you work WAY harder than I do."

Typically the busier a facility is, the more people are working the planes. On our slow days, we have four people at a time in the tower working at a comfortable pace. On our busy days, we can staff up to eight positions, and EVERYONE is working to capacity. A single local controller can work a 80+ hour at a VFR tower without breaking a sweat, but you throw in a heavy approach sequence, flow considerations, weather, sequencing, and simply types of aircraft being worked, IFR rules, etc., and that number goes WAY down, even with multiple people working. Difficulty and how "busy" you are rarely has to do with the number of planes on your frequency.
 

odotsal

Rookie
Jan 28, 2015
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I’m curious what types of facilities I would be offered
Don’t bother deciphering those formulas. Although there’s an SOP, facility lists will surely make no sense. I received three 12s and two 11s on my list from 2015. I only had one military RAPCON for experience. A coworker had two RAPCONS and many more years of experience and was offered 7s and below. Also, you can politely ask for another list if you don’t like your first one. That’s what said coworker did. Many people will say just be happy that you got a list and get your foot in the door... it never hurt to ask for what you want.
 

JayTango

Junior Member
Feb 21, 2016
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Yeah, for some part of a formula i wasn’t sure what the value of “FAA equivalent level” was suppose to be determined from. So I just saw the list of tower or radar only exp with high/low scores will receive X type facility at X facility pay level. So hopefully I get some decent TRACONs having two RAPCs....
 

Purplelobj

Epic Member
Jan 29, 2014
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They don't care how many facilities you worked at... They care about the complexity and traffic volume. There are certain military bases that are busier than others and people from those facilities will get higher level FAA facilities offered
 

JayTango

Junior Member
Feb 21, 2016
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Copy, well I guess if I base it off lists folks from my first base we’re getting it’d be 8-10 range, which would be awesome. But for the region I want I’d take any facility no matter how low a level it’d be. Thanks for the insight man.
 

ajmezz

Epic Member
Apr 8, 2010
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Like others have said, don’t think too much into it. It’s fun to speculate, but for the most part it’s so random. Previous coworker had same experience and got a list of about 6 level 5-6 up/downs. About a year later I got a list of 24ish level 4-6 tower only. Current coworker had exact same experience as a friend, but with a few more positions, and got a list of all low level towers, while his friend got offered a few level 8-10 up/downs and stand alone tracons. Both were on the exact same job bid. It really boils down to what the FAA needs at the time. Unless you were at some of those busy military bases that purple mentioned. I think they always get offered high level tracons.
 

JayTango

Junior Member
Feb 21, 2016
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No, I was at Travis and now Kunsan. I don’t consider either to be particularly busy especially compared to places like Nellis or Eglin with 15 positions and all. Just gonna say eff it and give me what you got, there’s no way they can send me as far away home as I am now. Lol
 

ajmezz

Epic Member
Apr 8, 2010
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Don’t underestimate the FAA haha. Best of luck! Hope you get somewhere close to home, but don’t you dare get a facility I want!
 

odotsal

Rookie
Jan 28, 2015
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Also, your military base complexity is not an indicator on whether you’ll have success or not at a level 10 or higher. I saw three people who had Eglin RAPCON wash out. The guy who worked Cessnas made it.
 

NovemberEcho

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
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Also, your military base complexity is not an indicator on whether you’ll have success or not at a level 10 or higher. I saw three people who had Eglin RAPCON wash out. The guy who worked Cessnas made it.
i worked next door to Eglin for 6 years. We had pilots ask for rerouts and deny shortcuts to avoid talking with them.