Tower Vs. Tracon


Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
Since I've spent my entire career here at the NY Tracon, I'm of course biased in my opinion, but my area (EWR) gets fed traffic, and interacts with 3 different centers (ZNY, ZDC, and ZBW), so I have visited those 3 several times, plus a few other center facilities in other parts of the country, and I have yet to see any center come even remotely close to the level of complexity, and chaos that we have here. We do stuff here that nobody else does, we have "rules" created out of thin air to make things "legal" here that otherwise would be illegal anywhere else, just because if we didn't, you couldn't make this screwed up airspace work the numbers we run.

Just to give you one of many examples of some of those , we got something called a "special use line" which is a boundary of airspace between the EWR and LGA areas that runs parallel to the Hudson, where both areas can legally have traffic on the same place, at the same altitude as long as the traffic is DIVERGING FROM THE LINE, and not the other aircraft. Kinda hard to explain without seeing it. Go and try to find that in the .65, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.
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Trusted Contributor
Aug 27, 2008
show me a center's traffic that gets really mundane... especially this time of the year. I don't think you know what your talking about. There is a reason why all centers are level 10,11 and 12.
I checked out at Indy Center...level 12. I think I know what I'm talking about ;-) I even worked one of the most complex sectors at Indy Center. Had its days, but once you get the hang of it, it does get pretty mundane.

Centers are all level 10 and above merely because of traffic count.
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The Heatles

Loving Life
Jun 15, 2008
Miami, FL
OK, enough with the dick comparisons...

If you have an option, I would do anything but tower. An up/down is fine but don't get into a low level VFR tower. I just don't think the future is very bright for them. You need a radar ticket.
You say this like you will be fired... You don't NEED a radar ticket. If you're at a low level tower that's shutting down then you get to move and its usually to a facility of your choosing. That being said, a majority of new hires go to low level towers, without a choice. Decline that offer and go to the back of the line.


Trusted Contributor
Feb 7, 2010
A Dark Dark Room
Lets be real. Center has the most time to figure things out. Next goes TRACON and finally tower. On the flip side, tower can say they had visual, TRACON can get out of a jam with 15 degrees and center still needs 3-5 miles depending. For the most part, its a wash.


Trusted Member
Feb 17, 2011
It's purely personal preferece. Plain and simple. Both (tower and radar) have their ups and downs. If at all possible I would suggest finding a way to experience both and see what suits you.