Radar control is a bit special. Compared to a tower who is in the airport tower controller and can get visual contact with aircraft, a radar controller will direct traffic on higher altitudes only by using his radar. Usually the radar controllers will be in another building than ground and tower controller.

Radar can be different things but what they have in common is that they are all using the radar screen only. Radar can be divided into these sectors:

Departure: When an aircraft has departed the tower will tell him to contact departure.

The Departure will then give the plane clearance to fly his SID or give radar vectors and altitude if the pilot flies IFR. When the aircraft has reached a higher altitude, he will switch to control.


Pilot: Virgin 201 heavy with you on the Compton2D departure!

Dep: VIR201 h radar contact, continue with the Compton2D departure

Pilot: (reads back)

Approach: When an aircraft descends, he will contact approach between 18 000-5000 feet. The approach will give the pilot instructions to fly his approach to the runway.

If the pilot flies a STAR, the Approach will give vectors after the last waypoint of the STAR or he can tell the pilot to fly to a transition waypoint towards the runway if requested. If he doesn’t fly a STAR, he will give the pilot vectors.

When the approach has cleared the aircraft for the approach to the runway, he will tell him to contact tower.


Pilot: Heathrow approach, Qatari 648 with you 5800 descending 3500 on the Weald3D arrival

App: Qatari 648 leave weald heading 3-0-0 degrees

Pilot: reads back

App: Qatari 648 descend altitude 2000ft, QNH1016. Turn left heading 280 degrees, vectors for final approach runway 16

Pilot: Reads back

App: Qatari 648 turn left heading 190 degrees and reduce speed 180 knots

Pilot: reads back

App: Qatari 648 turn left heading 160 degrees intercept the localiser from the left and advise fully established runway 16

Pilot: Reads back

Pilot: Qatari 648 established on the localiser!

App: Qatari 648 descend with the glide, advise 4DME (4 miles from touchdown)

Pilot: Reads back

App: Qatari648 contact Heathrow tower 118.30

Pilot: reads back

Director: A director is something that can be combined with the approach controller if there’s a lot of traffic. In London Heathrow they have director aswell as approaches due to the amount of traffic.

A radar controller can also control airplanes on higher altitudes on a smaller area. Instead of a center or controller, there can be a few radar controllers, controlling a large area if It’s a lot of traffic.

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