TRACON/Tower vs Enroute?

Jay11

Newcomer
Jan 14, 2012
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0
1
:newhere:I am currently a student at Purdue and went to ZIND to shadow today to make sure I would like to actually be an Air Traffic Controller. I really enjoyed my visit there the people were professional and friendly. I really liked the TRACON/Tower atmosphere and what they actually did as far as there job went, but I was wanting to know a little more about enroute Air Traffic Control. I can read about it all day on the internet but was wanting to know some differences based on actual experience.

1) How are shifts different?

2) If you could do it again would you rather go TRACON/Tower or Enroute?

3) What are different pressures/responsibilities faced in each?

4) Any other thing I should know in general about about ATC.

The reality of the situation is I am going to go with what is offered to me first, but just wanted to gauge some options. Thank you and thanks to the staff at Indy Tower.

If any Indy center staff respond, is there a way I could come see how you all operate or how your normal day is?
 

StuSEL

Moderator
Aug 23, 2009
1,014
10
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You know where.
ZID (Indy Center) does tours like all facilities. Give them a call and set one up. The number is at the top under ATC Facilities. :)
 

UNDgrad06

Epic Member
Dec 8, 2010
1,309
14
38
Peachtree City, GA
1. Shifts are basically the same. Except all centers are open 24/7 where some towers might close down for the night.

2. I would stay with enroute because it's what I know and it's easy to me.

3. Pressures are basically the same. Tower and TRACON IMO is more of the same things over and over but the pressure is to cram as many plans on the runway as fast and efficiently as possible. Enroute the pressure involves around how to get planes through your airspace as efficiently as possible. Descending down to some airport climbing departures up and fitting them in with your traffic. And alot of other crap as well.

4. Training sucks. CPC is awesome.
 

Radium

Epic Member
Jan 14, 2009
1,988
8
38
Und is insane. All his answers are correct minus center over terminal.

If you look @ terminal staffing, its dudes who went to a center and said f that life. Tracon is where its at. We have like 20 ex center guys and they all hated it
 

MikeATC

Retired FAA, NATCA Member
Apr 3, 2009
1,230
3
38
Nashville TN
: was wanting to know some differences based on actual experience.

1) How are shifts different?

2) If you could do it again would you rather go TRACON/Tower or Enroute?

3) What are different pressures/responsibilities faced in each?

4) Any other thing I should know in general about about ATC.
_________________________________________________________________
I've worked both enroute and Tower/approach.

1: Shifts are the same, the majority of facilities are 24/7, most facilities work rotating days off (you days off rotate every month) and rotating shifts (day 1 &2- swingshift, day 3 & 4 day shift, day 5 - can be day shift or midshift) some facilities do have permanent days off (days selected by senority).

2. I'd stay with Tower/Approach.

2: Enroute: Low altitude is similar to approach control, the majority of traffic is climbing and descending, the mix of traffic is very similar too. High Alt: your traffic is moving fast, ususally in a nice long stream, depending on the sector you may start the sequence for a major airport.

Tower/Approach: Almost everyone (95%) of your traffic is climbing and descending, you have all types of aircraft with different performances, the majority of your traffic is probably on a vector and you sequence to each airport in your airspace. Busy Approach Controls have arrival and departure gates and more structure to working traffic than smaller facilities.

The key thing I liked about a combined Tower/Approach is that I got to work Radar approach and Tower, you get the best of both worlds.

At first the stress can be pretty high, as you gain experience and comfort working the traffic you don't notice the stress as much. Training anytime is a pain in the ass, but it is very important because as you move from facility to facility the basics are the same but each facility has unique procedures that you need to learn in order to be a safe and efficient controller.

Watch and LEARN, see how each controller handles situations, then adopt that technique.

Air Traffic Control in my opinion is one of the rare careers where something new can happen every day, you are constantly learning, and unlike many jobs you can depend on the person next to you to have your back.
 

DODO_STNX

Trusted Member
Aug 27, 2009
416
0
16
Chicago
I'm at the academy now and PV in two weeks..(enroute) It appears as though the success rate for tower is much higher these days...

There is about a 95% pass rate for tower right now. However, the FAA is really cracking down on enroute.. The last 3 classes have lost...

6/18

8/18

10/17

Just something to consider... I'm not implying tower is easier than Enroute, just that statistically right now... You have a better shot of getting out of the academy right now.... It all depends on the individual though..
 

Roddy_Piper

Resident Knucklehead
Jun 15, 2008
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Vegas baby
www.myspace.com
1) How are shifts different?

2) If you could do it again would you rather go TRACON/Tower or Enroute?

3) What are different pressures/responsibilities faced in each?

4) Any other thing I should know in general about about ATC.
1. because i'm at a 24 hour tracon facility, it's the same shifts as the center.

2. i've done both and LOVE terminal A LOT more. center was just not for me. *disclaimer 10 years tower and 3 years tracon so i'm a little biased. plus, i was a center during the white book so that sucked.

3. terminal puts planes close together and center keeps them far apart. terminal deals with much slower speeds (250 knots or less) and center deals with cruise speeds (300 knots or more). these are just generalizations but close.

4. it's a fun job, once you know what your doing.
 

mjh55404

Senior Analyst
Jul 3, 2009
996
0
16
OKC
I'm at the academy now and PV in two weeks..(enroute) It appears as though the success rate for tower is much higher these days...

There is about a 95% pass rate for tower right now. However, the FAA is really cracking down on enroute.. The last 3 classes have lost...

6/18

8/18

10/17

Just something to consider... I'm not implying tower is easier than Enroute, just that statistically right now... You have a better shot of getting out of the academy right now.... It all depends on the individual though..
This is VERY true. Also, after OKC you go to the center for DYSIM ( lab training on your own airspace ) and at ZOA 7 in the last group of 13 washed out of the lab. Some centers are different....some will try to see as quickly as possible if they think you are worth training, Even if over the long run you would have been fine.

Some facilities will just terminate you if they can for failing DYSIM. ZOA only seems to terminate those that they feel are not capable or mature enough to make it somewhere easier. 1 of the 7 was terminated and the rest are heaed to low level towers.
 

adam28

Newcomer
Apr 14, 2010
8
0
1
That's a 45% washout rate

I'm at the academy now and PV in two weeks..(enroute) It appears as though the success rate for tower is much higher these days...

There is about a 95% pass rate for tower right now. However, the FAA is really cracking down on enroute.. The last 3 classes have lost...

6/18

8/18

10/17

Just something to consider... I'm not implying tower is easier than Enroute, just that statistically right now... You have a better shot of getting out of the academy right now.... It all depends on the individual though..
 

islandguy

Junior Member
Nov 9, 2010
125
0
16
so between OKC and the washout at facilities, they probably get like 3 out of 100 hired, no wonder enroute hires so much...